World and Nation

Expert to testify on deviance of NYPD officer

NEW YORK — A prominent forensic psychiatrist who has consulted on behalf of local and federal prosecutors about such notorious serial killers as Jeffrey L. Dahmer and Theodore Kaczynski is now involved in the case of a New York police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, rape, cook, and eat women, a new court filing shows.

This time, however, he will be assisting the defense.

Lawyers for the officer, Gilberto Valle, said in a court filing Monday that they intended to introduce the testimony of Dr. Park Dietz, of Newport Beach, Calif., who they said had interviewed and “conducted an extensive psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Valle.”

Dietz concluded that Valle was not mentally ill, the lawyers said in a letter to prosecutors that was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

But Dietz did find that Valle suffered from a deviancy that involved fantasies of sexual sadism, in which he derived excitement from the imagined psychological or physical suffering of female victims.

The lawyers also noted in their letter that about three-quarters of Dietz’s work in criminal cases has been for federal, state and other law enforcement authorities.

“Dr. Dietz’s objective evaluation completely supports Mr. Valle’s innocence,” one of his lawyers, Julia L. Gatto, a federal public defender, said Monday. “As has been clear from the start, there is no crime here, only our client’s words. Dr. Dietz will help the jury put those words in context.”

Valle, who has been suspended by the Police Department and is being held pending a trial in two weeks, has been accused of plotting his crimes through emails and instant messages he exchanged with other conspirators. A second man was arrested last week, and was ordered detained on Monday.

Valle’s lawyers have argued that their client’s communications, disturbing as they were, were merely dark fantasies that he exhibited on Internet websites used by thousands of people. The lawyers said Dietz would testify that Valle’s “Internet communications and related actions in this case are consistent with the modus operandi of fantasy role-play and storytelling engaged in by people” afflicted with his disorder.

Prosecutors had no comment on the filing. The government has contended in court papers that Valle’s conduct “went beyond mere talk or fantasy on the Internet,” and that he took “concrete steps” to further his plans, including the surveillance of a woman he had agreed to kidnap.

In one message, a criminal complaint charges, Valle wrote of one potential victim: “I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus … cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.”

Dietz declined to comment on the Valle case.

In 2005, a Texas appeals court overturned the conviction of Andrea P. Yates, charged in the drowning deaths of her five children. Dietz, a prosecution witness, referred to a television episode of “Law & Order” shortly before the crime that depicted a mother drowning her children and being found insane. But no such show had been broadcast.