The 2013 conviction of a former New York City police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned late Monday by a federal judge who said there was not sufficient evidence to support it.
The judge, Paul G. Gardephe of Federal District Court in Manhattan, granted the former officer, Gilberto Valle, a verdict of acquittal on the most serious count that he faced, kidnapping conspiracy. He could have faced life in prison on that count.
“The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play,” Judge Gardephe said in a 118-page opinion issued late Monday night.
Mr. Valle, who was convicted in March 2013, had not yet been sentenced, and his federal public defenders had asked Judge Gardephe to grant him a new trial, arguing that the Constitution granted people — including police officers — “the right to fantasize about whatever and whomever they like, free from government interference.”
No women were ever abducted or harmed in the plot, but prosecutors told the jury that Mr. Valle had “crossed the line” while immersing himself in a fetish website where he communicated electronically with others about how he wanted to abduct women, butcher and cook them, and eat them.
Mr. Valle’s lawyers had argued that his plot was all part of a twisted fantasy — “no more real than the alien invasion” featured in the 1938 radio drama “War of the Worlds,” one defense lawyer, Julia L. Gatto, said in her closing argument.
But federal prosecutors argued that Mr. Valle had taken “concrete steps” to further his plans, including illegally looking up potential victims in a law enforcement database, carrying out surveillance of them, and using the Internet to research ways to abduct, subdue and cook potential victims.
“He left the world of fantasy; he entered the world of reality,” one prosecutor, Hadassa Waxman, said in her closing argument.
But Judge Gardephe wrote that “once the lies and the fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pain, terror and degradation.
“Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.”
The case had drawn widespread attention both because it involved a police officer and because it raised the question of when does a virtual crime, discussed and plotted in Internet chat rooms, cross over into actual criminal activity, including what kinds of additional steps are needed to create an actual crime.
The judge said in “the unique circumstances of this extraordinary case,” he had concluded that the evidence offered by prosecutors at trial was not “sufficient to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Valle entered into a genuine agreement to kidnap a woman, or that he specifically intended to commit a kidnapping.” ...
Some couples say hooking up with strangers together, instead of cheating, helped their marriage.
And next, it's the young and the restless. We're going to meet some couples who say their unions are more secure and more honest because they don't believe in mog nothing my. They swear the secret to staying together is not having secrets at all.
I have been dying to wear this skirt. I have just been wanting to wear it. These sexy guests are all dressing to impress for a top secret invitation-only party.
They're all in committed relationships, but tonight, they're hoping to hook up with the other party Goers. They're swingers, who find passion with strangers. We're excited.
Yes. Finally here. Our story begins two years ago with these two curious couples.
Ginelle and Steven. Stuff that people do they want to try. Do you think we can do that?
And Michael and Sara. How did this all start for you? We made a bet for the super bowl.
If the patriots won, I got a free fling with another guy and if the giants won -- I got a threesome with another girl. And needless to say, the giants won. Call me old fashioned, but isn't there something odd about seeing your mate with somebody else?
I mean, we're not really the jealous type. We believe that sharing is caring. Welcome to behind closed doors.
Attending a posh swingers party like this is a first for both our couples. And here, the party Goers are strictly V. I. P. ...
The former owner of a private club in Fayette County wants the man who rents the property cited for allegedly permitting on-site camping during events that cater to alternative sexual lifestyles.
Thomas Wajda, who said he no longer operates the clothing-optional Mountain Retreat along Route 40 in Redstone, said he rents the property to Ray Como, who has addresses in Pittsburgh and Redstone.
Online advertisements indicate the retreat hosts events through Pittsburgh Bridge, a self-described BDSM peer group. BDSM, according to UrbanDictionary.com, is an abbreviation for bondage and other sexual activity.
Como could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Wajda waged a three-year battle with the county and nearby residents to operate his club on the property, which is zoned for agricultural use. In 1998, he obtained a zoning certificate that allows a bed and breakfast to operate at the site.
Sara Rosiek, the county director of zoning, planning and community development, said the bed and breakfast zoning certificate does not permit camping.
Wajda, who has an ongoing landlord-tenant civil case against Como, said he went to county officials when a neighbor showed him photos of visitors camping on the property. The neighbor, whom he identified by first name only, did not return a Tribune-Review phone call.
Court documents do not list an attorney for Como. He could not be reached through a telephone number listed for him.
Wajda said the county has not yet acted.
Rosiek said that, because of the kind of activity detailed in online advertisements, she has not required anyone from her staff to visit the property to investigate the camping claim.
She said she is working with the county's solicitors to see if a citation can be issued based on the ads.
There are no plans to send an employee to a “June Play Party,” an event advertised online for Saturday, she said. ...
DOVER, N.H. (AP) - Defense lawyers and prosecutors stressed one thing throughout the trial of a 31-year-old man convicted of raping and killing a University of New Hampshire student: The key was the truthfulness of the defendant's ex-girlfriend.
The jury decided Friday that Kathryn McDonough, the star witness in Seth Mazzaglia's murder trial, was telling the truth, convicting Mazzaglia of first- and second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott in October 2012.
McDonough, 20, first told investigators that she lured Marriott to their apartment as a sexual offering for Mazzaglia and she died while the women were engaged in consensual rough sex. She later testified that she made the story up because she still loved Mazzaglia and wanted to protect him. After getting immunity from prosecution, she testified that Mazzaglia choked then raped Marriott after she twice rejected his sexual advances. The Westborough woman's body was never found.
McDonough has already pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and is serving 1½ to 3 years in prison. The plea deal was contingent on her telling the truth at trial.
Defense lawyers painted her as an opportunistic liar who killed Marriott then changed her story when she found out she could cut a deal and get less time in prison if she pinned the crime on her ex-boyfriend.
"The main thoughts were that she was a pathological liar most of her life and up until she took that witness stand, her life had been based upon lie after lie after lie," juror Maria Clifford, 52, said of McDonough. "I think Mr. Mazzaglia had control over her and she was afraid of him. We just thought, 'She's on the witness stand now and she doesn't have anything left to lose,' and she came to the realization that 'I need to do the right thing.'"
Clifford also said McDonough's efforts to reconnect with her mother after being estranged from her influenced jurors.
The verdict was bittersweet for Marriott's father, Bob, who read a statement in a shaky voice that broke several times. Mazzaglia's life sentence without chance of parole will never soothe their grief, he said.
"We will always miss her and we wonder what could have been," Marriott said. "In fact, the trial has been torturous for us. The truth of what happened to Lizzi is horrendous. And every time it's been told, it has reinforced the despair that we feel."
Marriott said the verdict, which included convictions on lesser charges of conspiracy, will keep a dangerous man off the streets and protect other women.
He also had harsh words for Mazzaglia's lawyers for what he called intentionally misstating his daughter's actions the night she died.
"Blaming a victim who is unable to defend herself is a typical ploy used by defense teams. If you are dead, you cannot correct a mischaracterization," he said. ...
A new Miami-Dade business run by a local elected official brands itself as “upscale” and “discreet,” features co-ed showers and advertises young women in seductive poses wearing very little. The strategy behind Flirts: updating what co-owner Geraldo Rodriguez calls a dated image of “swingers clubs.”
“It’s an open-minded, lifestyle nightclub,’’ said Rodriguez, who won elected seats on both Miami-Dade’s Republican Executive Committee and the county’s zoning board in Westchester. “We don’t want to say it's a swingers club. That's not what we are. That's back in the ’80s.”
Men wanting to join Flirts pay about $150 for a 60-day membership. For women, it’s about $20, Rodriguez said. It costs between $45 and $85 at the door, as well, though the 15 private rooms (equipped with a queen-sized bed, nightstand, wastebasket and hand sanitizer) are free.
The No. 4 rule at the Flirts club is “NO JOKING ABOUT PROSTITUTION,” according to a document received by the Herald and confirmed by Rodriguez. Flirts won’t be for prudes. The rules note: “You agree that you are not offended by nudity, adult themes or sexual situations/activities.”
Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade, emailed Friday to say Rodriguez was dropped from the membership roster of the local Executive Committee sometime after the spring of 2013. “I have no recollection of this person ever volunteering or being involved in the Miami Dade GOP or any Republican campaigns,” Diaz wrote. Rodriguez “was removed from the REC for failure to attend any meetings, so I don't think it would even be accurate to refer to him as a ‘GOP activist.’”
Rodriguez confirmed he has not been to the executive committee’s meetings, and that he is “probably not” a member anymore. Election records on file with Miami-Dade show he was elected unopposed to represent District 24 in August 2012.
Flirts, to be housed in a former shoe warehouse in the 8800 block of Southwest 132nd Street, faces some regulatory hurdles before it can open. County records show Miami-Dade inspectors ordered the renovation shut down in February, since Flirt hadn’t obtained a permit for the work. An electronic notation from Friday said “work continued” after the shut-down order, and showed a $500 fine issued for the property.
Rodriguez, a partner in the business opening Flirts, said a building permit has been filed and that he expects a July opening. And while his business faces sanctions from the county’s zoning arm at the same time he sits on a zoning board, Rodriguez said there’s no overlap between his roles as business owner and volunteer office holder. Flirts sits in the Kendall zoning district, outside of the territory governed by the Westchester panel that includes Rodriguez....
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/27/4205826/for-gop-activist-a-swingers-club.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/06/speaking-of-naked-and-politics.html#storylink=cpy
So there’s this thing — in kinky culture, it tends to be called “headspace.” It’s when you are swimming in the whatever role you’re in, dominant or submissive, top or bottom. It could be “bottom space” or “dom space” or “little space” or “puppy space” or whatever kind of space you are seeking or playing within. It’s often what people aim for when we play, often that infinite-floaty space that seems boundless and fills our heads with the same thing as chocolate and wine.
Know what I mean? Yeah. I thought you did.
But how do you get it? You want more of it, don’t you? Maybe you want more of it specifically about dominance and submission? Well, I’ve got some ideas.
See, you’re dirty. You may not think I know this about you, but I do. You’re dirty in all the best, queerest ways. Don’t get me wrong — there is nothing bad or shameful about the heart-filled, lust-filled sexytimes play that you, in your deepest secret fantasies, desire. You do you, right?
But I know sometimes you want… more. You see her sexy, gorgeous thighs, that curve of her hips, the way she crosses her legs, and you get that growl, that heat coming up from down low. Sometimes, fucking isn’t enough. Sometimes, you want to give over every inch of you, be wrung out and emptied until you are giddy and glorious. Or, you want to take, to envelop, to grab handfuls of her and yank and pull and throw.
Yeah. Those are the headspace moments I want us to talk about.
What do you do when you need it that bad? How do you make it last, make it extraordinary? How do you make your own skin worthy of the magic that can happen when your body crashes together with hers?
1. Get consent, get permission, but then… make her wait.
Deny her the very thing she most wants. Call her on it: Oh, you want this? My mouth? More kisses? You like my hands on you? You want me to touch you more — there? Right there? Right fucking there? Aren’t you a dirty girl. Aren’t you a bad boi. Aren’t you the most sexy luscious gorgeous creature I have ever had the holy privilege of lusting after. Fuck. Make her wait until neither of you can handle it anymore. Pull the sling shot back until the cord is just going to break with the strain, any moment — and then: let it go.
2. Give permission, give consent, but then… make her wait.
Don’t give in right away. Push back, just a little. It’s a game. She fills you up with power and then you wiggle it all the way through your body. You don’t have to downright deny, but go slow, one delicious inch of your skin at a time. She wants you to turn over? Use your words and call her on it, “Oh, are you trying to turn me over? Trying to undo my bra now? You want to see more of my skin? Think I’m that kind of girl?” Read her reactions. If she backs off, give more permission. Give more consent. If she growls back at you, she wants to play this game, too. ...
Steven M. Zelich posted online in the past about searching for a woman to imprison. He’s now linked to two dead women found in suitcases June 5 along a road in Geneva, Wisc. The former West Allis cop was reportedly kicked off the force in 2001 over an altercation with a hooker he said stole money from him.
Police walked bags of evidence and even a refrigerator out of the West Allis, Wisc., apartment of a former police officer suspected in the murders of two women found stuffed in suitcases in the town Geneva earlier in June.
The former cop, who reportedly resigned from the West Allis police force after a hushed-up altercation with a prostitute in 2001 after a dozen years with the department, was arrested Wednesday and held in the Walworth County Jail on preliminary charges of hiding a corpse, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Zelich reportedly met one woman a year and a half ago, killed her, and kept her body in both his car and his home, cops said.
The two female corpses were found stuffed in suitcases June 5 along a road in Geneva, some 45 miles southwest of West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.
One woman has been identified as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minn. Cops say they think the woman, reported missing in Minnesota on Nov. 22, was killed in a Microtel Inn and Suites room in Rochester, Minn., where she stayed with Zelich earlier that month, police told the Journal Sentinel.
She was found naked, a rope around her neck and a ball gag strapped in her mouth with a collar, the complaint documents. Cops think Zelich met Simonson on a bondage website.
Motel employees recognized a picture of the missing woman and told cops she stayed there with the suspected murderer Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, the day Zelich checked out alone, according to the newspaper.
"Basically, after Nov. 2 she was never seen from or heard from again," Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin told the paper.
Cops linked Zelich to the missing woman on Tuesday; the next day, he was arrested.
An ad on secondcityclassifieds.com posted by “Laura Simonson’s family and friends” and titled “Steven Zelich is a predator” claims the former cop “is a sadist who has enslaved” Simonson.
“He keeps her naked, handcuffed, shackled and caged. He has no intention of ever releasing this poor woman who suffers from various mental disabilities. She has been whipped and tortured by Steven Mark Zelich since November 2, 2013,” it reads.
An email address included on the ad and linked to Zelich is found on disturbing web forums, including one where he writes in January 2012 about seeking “no limit no release enslavement, imprisonment, captivity, animalization ... ideally in a farm/caged situation.” ...
The suspect in two Washoe Valley slayings was a "practicing sexual sadist" and an erotic leather title holder who lost his trophy belt after a sexual assault charge in 2007.
Anthony Gustave Nelson, 40, was sentenced to seven years and two lifetime probation terms and was prohibited from contacting his victim, an 18-year-old woman who had been working for an escort service when they met April 5, 2007, according to a Maricopa County arrest report.
That woman said Nelson raped her after she declined oral sex, the arrest report said. Nelson then threatened to kill the woman if she screamed, according to the report.
Prior to his charge, Nelson was named in 2006 the International LeatherSIR title holder of the ILSb-ICBB, an organization that advertises itself as the "bad boys" of leather with the goal of outreach and education "about leather folk, our erotic expression, traditions and history — and of course, hot leather sex," its website says.
Mark Frazier, a member and former organization owner, said Nelson — who used the stage-name Master Kalan — was stripped of his title after the organization gained information on Nelson's sexual assault charge in 2007. Kalan's bio on a Southwest Leather Conference website page lists him as a "practicing sexual sadist since the early 1990's."
"I really didn't know him and only met him once briefly," Frazier wrote in an email. "Did I think he was somebody who would do something like that? No but then again — I cannot understand why people do the things they do at times."
Investigators are looking into what Nelson did from his release from prison June 2 to his death in a gunfight with law enforcement on Friday following the slaying of two women at a Washoe Valley home.
The names of those victims have not yet been released. ...