Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

There are many serious flaws in our judicial system that lead immediately to despair. Not least among these faults is the naming of suspects and persons placed under arrest by police and their handmaidens in the daily news media.

We have been rigorously taught platitudes all of our lives and one of the most pernicious is the individual’s inalienable right to the presumption of innocence.

Tell that to Jian Ghomeshi ( Jian Ghomeshi trial’s not guilty decision triggers outrage ) or anyone else accused of a crime, serious or otherwise. Long before “due process”, as a consequence of “secret” investigation by so-called journalists, Ghomeshi lost his job and his livelihood, his reputation as a first-class radio host (which he was,) and his presumption of innocence. In the minds of many, many people, he was and to this day, in spite of his recent acquittal on all five charges that were before the courts, guilty.I paid attention to the case. His “day in court” (a euphemism to describe his two-month-long trial) was as sound and fair a process as I have ever seen. And the result unequivocally correct. Given the quality of the evidence against him and the character of the witnesses, the fact that they deliberately lied under oath and only supplied police and prosecutors with the information they decided prosecutors and police needed to hear, any other conclusion would have been a travesty.

The vast majority of citizens pay absolutely no attention to the machinations of our judicial system. Ignorance has never stopped anyone from forming strong opinions and forcible expressing them. Reminds me of a line out of Camus’ “The Plague” about what the citizens were busy doing while the city officials were busy closing the gates; busy forming uninformed views.

On the other hand, I know a great deal about how it works, or doesn’t, having been a life-long student of police behavior and practices as well as the court system. But what gives me an unique perspective is the fact for a ten-year period I was the object of intense police investigations on two continents and three countries, twice arrested and charged with over one hundred criminal offences, sued by Attorney General Michael Bryant as “an enemy of the State” and vigorously prosecuted to the “full extent of the law.” That is a school of hard knocks that no one attends voluntarily but it does bestow an esoteric knowledge.

Mine is not just another opinion.

The reality: the moment someone is accused of a crime they are considered by neighbors, friends and family (with the possible exception of mothers,) to be guilty and condemned to the criminal class for all time, their lives inexorably altered hitherto fore.

In the collective mind the narrative runs like this: Joe/Jane must be guilty or else how would they have attracted the attention of the police in the first place let alone “got themselves” arrested. They must have done something.

At this point whatever is good in their lives is tarnished, their reputations besmirched, and depending on the charge(s) their careers suddenly on life support or completely destroyed.

“Completely destroyed” is especially true when the charges are sex related particularly when they have to do with sex crimes involving children under the age of sixteen.
The ultimate atmosphere of Gene Pitney’s “Town without Pity” becomes the thin air an accused must breath.

There are many problems in this hornet’s nest of fact and fiction, the idea of presumptive innocence and the assumptive guilt.

For instance, most associations and collectives working on behalf of wrongfully accused and convicted persons believe, although seldom say so, that the police and the courts get it wrong at least fifty percent of the time. I believe it’s more like sixty.

Prior to the advent of J. Edgar Hoover in the 40s things were different. Hoover is the progenitor of modern policing and its modus operandi.

Hoover was the first data miner, a dark genius who well knew the illusory nature of the enterprise. He was z ring master of the machinations of public and media relations toward perpetual metastasized police budgets entirely derived from the public purse. To this day, police are schooled in something openly called “tricks and lies”. Hoover was the master trickster and a unrepentant liar. The conventional wisdom: Criminals lie so police must too.

I digress. Suffice it to say I am not naive. The naming of persons of suspicion, targets for arrest and arrestees is not going to change. But at least it should be recognized for the travesty it is and the first step on the road to perdition. And, perhaps, cause a few to think twice. Crown has big decision before Ghomeshi’s next trial

Advertisements

WHERE PAUL BERNARDO USED TO LIVE – PART II

James_KP-24_Mural in double sized cell

Taking a sip of white wine, Geoffrey James told me about meeting the prison librarian while in the prison shooting photographs for his new book “Inside”. A very pleasant woman close to retirement, the topic of Paul Bernardo came up.

I asked why? “Because,” Geoffrey said, “the media somehow got a hold of the idea that Bernardo was working in the library and created a mild regional and institutional disturbance. She was astonished because nothing could have been further from the truth.”

She explained that Bernardo spent a good deal of his time writing “grievances,” not a particularly unusual activity for longer-term residents.

Those incarcerated in Canadian prisons have rights (so to speak) and one of those rights is to formally complain about anything that may be amiss or awry (in the prisoner’s judgment) to do with their treatment by the prison. “It’s a Canadian thing.”

For instance, if a prisoner is well-behaved and orderly it is that prisoner’s “right” to have a job. Prison jobs pay a pittance – the Harper government recently changed the daily wage from $7 to $5 – but, of course, it’s not about the money.

On the inside, having something to do, anything, is better than nothing. Inside or out, idle hands do the Devil’s work. Bernardo had not been assigned a job in the long years since he was incarcerated – for life – in 1995. And he wanted one. It was his right.

Prisoners’ grievances can, and occasionally do end up in a federal court if the correctional bureaucracy is particularly recalcitrant and unreceptive. Grievances get lost.

As is often the case in bureaucracies that set up systems for communication and petition, his first two or three attempts were rebuffed. He appealed.

Just before the matter was going to be elevated to an outside court, the prison gave him a job. The gate keepers had no appetite for airing such dirty laundry and bring Bernardo’s name back into the press which it would have done had some intrepid ink-stained wretch found Bernardo’s name on some federal court’s docket.

Regardless, the fact that Bernardo was given a job got out. There are gremlins everywhere; completely skewed, it got out.

On August 13, 2013, CHCH-TV a local Hamilton-based station, finally gave Paul Bernardo what he’s always wanted: a taste of the kind of hysterical attention that has followed his ex-wife Karla. Since Karla left Paul nothing has gone right and now he’s doing life in the big house in a 6′ x 8′ closet-sized cell 24/7 365 per, on the seg row in whatever federal prison he’s put in.

The 2:51 second CHCH-TV item went like this:

Nick the News anchor: “Sadistic killer Paul Bernardo may be staying in a maximum security prison. But according to what Donna French has been told, the man who tortured and killed her daughter Kristen, is living a cushy life behind bars.”

Then, over a series of fast cuts of the killer and his then wife Karla in the back of police cars, being escorted by police hither and yon, stills of the young victims, a clip or two from Paul and Karla’s voluminous home videos, the usual visual accoutrement and bric-a-brac of the psychopathic sex killer programming unfolds for 15 – 20 seconds to reporter Lauran Sobouran’s breathless voice-over:

“Bernardo is one of the most despicable criminals in Canada he drugged and sexually assaulted his sister-in-law Tammy Lyn Homolka and with the help of his wife Karla he tortured and strangled Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. The heinous crime spree would have continued if Karla hadn’t started talking when he nearly beat her to death. Bernardo was declared a dangerous offender the public led to believe he would be locked up for life.”

Cut to (CT) a close up (CU) of Donna French, Kristen French’s mother with a police car (inexplicably) in the shot:

“I was sure that he would be in solitary confinement forever. They wrote us a few months ago… it hadn’t just happened it had been a couple of years I believe… ”

(While Mrs. French speaks the camera closes in first on her right profile and then switches to the left. An old television technique to maximize the viewer’s sympathy and accentuate empathy.)

V.O. (Voice Over)

“Donna French was shocked to learn that Bernardo is now out of solitary confinement working in the prison library… Donna French is upset, people in St. Catharines infuriated”

CT medium shot of a person in a St. Catharines mall identified as “Catherine Pickenuck” “infuriated”:

“He should be locked up for 23 hours a day, what he did to those girls (her voice-breaking…)”

CT a younger, attractive, animated woman with sunglasses probably in the same mall identified as “Jody Curry” “Bernardo should be locked up”:

“What he did to those girls was horrendous… There’s no way he should be sitting in a library or restocking shelves. It’s awful I even get choked up (fanning herself with her right hand like an actress who has just received an cherished award,) I grew up in Scarborough so I remember, it’s awful” (breaks down in tears).

Because she is attractive and animated and cries on cue Jody gets the lion’s share of the airtime in this two minute and fifty-one second piece.)

VO: “20 years after the Bernardo/Homolka crime spree people react like it happened yesterday…”

Cuts to a couple of other woman in the mall parking lot who have very similar opinions to Catherine and Jody.

CT medium shot of reporter Lauran Sobouran standing in the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot. The church sign behind here says “May Jesus Bless Richly Lyne and Craig.”

Lauran Sobouran holding the microphone: “Now, the anger and raw emotion is still so intense for many in this community that they can’t even drive by the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot where Kristen was abducted without all those nightmarish memories coming back to them.”

CT a still visibly upset Jody Curry: “If you remember (pause) it was an absolutely horrific thing, (pause) you know we weren’t even allowed to walk in the street…Why should he get anything?”

In direct contrast to this remarkable bit of fetishistic television, Paul Bernardo’s status as a completely isolated segregated prisoner had not changed and it never will.

Unlike many prisons in the United States, no prison in Canada has ever lost a “skin beefer” (con-speak for convicted child rapists and killers. Cons don’t make the fine distinction between teens and children the FBI Behavioral Unit does.) Since the 1972 riots in Kingston Penitentiary, described so graphically by ex-con Roger (Mad Dog) Caron’s influential 1978 memoir Go Boy! Memories of a Life Behind Bars no one has been killed while incarcerated in a federal penitentiary.

Because their mandate is to isolate these offenders and keep them alive, in the true British tradition to bureaucratic fidelity, our Correctional Service has been exceptionally good at keeping prisoners such as Paul Bernardo, The Shoeshine Boy killer Saul David Betesh and most recently the cross-dressing murderer, ex-Colonel Russell Williams alive.

Bernardo, like the rest of his sort, spends at least 23 hours a day locked in a 6′ x 8′ closet, isolated in a special unit Mrs. French called “solitary confinement” with the few other segregated or isolated prisoners they have in the system.

After all these sorts of criminal are the rarest of the rare and Canada only has a total of around 10,000 people held in federal penitentiaries at any given time so there might be ten to a dozen lifers such as these. They were not all housed at the Kingston facility but probably the majority was.

Just to clarify another media myth while I’m at it, no prisoner in Canada has access to email or the Internet and especially those held in a Segregation Unit. A television, sure. Of course the toilet is en suite as is the mounted steel slab that functions as both couch and bed, a table and a chest of drawers, all firmly fixed to the floor. But that’s it. If the individual can afford a computer then they will have one. There’s no wireless in the Big House, at least not in Canada. But be assured with the bare necessities of life in that cell there is barely room for the prisoner, let alone one 6 feet tall with a computer.

I reiterate, Paul Bernardo and the few others held in segregation are completely isolated at all times from all other inmates; they see no one except the correctional service officers assigned to the segregation unit.

If anyone at CHCH-TV had bothered to check they would have discovered the “job” Paul Bernardo was given was that of prison “book reviewer.”-The task of “evaluating all of the books in the prison library fell to him. Hence the librarian’s detailed knowledge of situation.

But Mr. Bernardo did not get to go the library to do his job. The library is accessible to the general population so it is completely inaccessible to any “seg” prisoners. It took them a while to come up with but in the end the correctional services bureaucrats were quite pleased with themselves. They had devised a job for Paul Bernardo for which he did not have to leave his chair let alone his cell.

The books, a few at a time, were brought to Bernardo by a guard. When he finished reviewing those, a few more were delivered. And so began another lonely enterprise in absolute futility that ostensibly would go on forever, like his incarceration in virtually total isolation, until he died.

Except it didn’t.

When they closed the prison, Bernardo lost his job. And there is no guarantee that his new stewards will be as innovative as the former. Or, perhaps they have already given that job to one of the other seg boys moved to the maximum facility at Millhaven with Bernardo. I don’t know. Nor do I care.

The librarian pointed out the almost inconceivable tedium of Bernardo’s claustrophobic existence to Geoffrey.

She explained that sometimes the guards forgot, or were too “busy”, to facilitate the hour-a-day that Bernardo, and his confreres, were each supposed to get, alone in the exercise yard.

It’s hard to contemplate, she said; living in a closet-sized cell. Seeing only the same few guards day-in and day-out. Reviewing stacks of old used books for a few dollars a day. If you asked her, a person would be better off dead.

Bernardo probably agrees. Betesh did, way back when and yet he’s still around lost somewhere in the catacombs of dim institutional memory and bureaucratic efficiency.
Bernardo and his plight really have absolutely nothing to do with Geoffrey’s project and had the media not made such a ridiculous spectacle of itself Bernardo’s name might never have come up. But the librarian was clearly struck by the strange incongruity of it all and what seemed an infinite capacity on the part of the media to get it wrong, damn the consequences or cost.

In spite of the fact that my biography of Paul Bernardo in Invisible Darkness is the most comprehensive and complete in existence, Geoffrey well knows I have never had any interest in Bernardo. To me he was never more than the Ken on Barbie’s arm. Geoffrey told this anecdote because it illustrated an increasingly dysfunctional legacy media that he knows is something in which I have an abiding interest.

My pitch to the publishers for a contract and advance to write Invisible Darkness ” was very short.

In one paragraph it posed only two questions: “What was the pretty young wife doing all the while her husband was out raping and pillaging? That and how they eluded discovery for such an extended period of time.

When I sent the my “pitch” out on a quiet Sunday afternoon to half-a-dozen publishers – by fax – in early 1993, email was the purview of academia and the military. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, and no texting.

After reading a long front-page story of Bernardo’s arrest in a newspaper in which the fact that he had a young wife who was from St. Catharines was buried deep in the copy, I had absolutely no idea how far-ranging and truly bizarre the answer would be. (To be continued)

Bernardo beer box hat

PRISON GROUPIES

This past Thursday, (July 3, 2014) I awoke to what can only be described as a squall, a minor atmospheric disturbance. In a world consistently assaulted by media frenzies – days-long torrential blah blah, blah blah fests, talking heads and hurricane-force chattering clashes, tsunamis of crazy opinions offered by individuals with questionable intellectual pedigree, this was nothing. A momentarily, strictly regional thunderstorm. 

A few examples:

 Yahoo News
https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/notorious-killer-paul-bernardo-reportedly-set-marry-ontario-152004508.html

 National Post
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/07/03/christie-blatchford-there-are-reasons-beyond-salaciousness-to-revive-the-story-of-paul-bernardo/

London Free Press
http://www.lfpress.com/2014/07/03/paul-bernardo-plans-to-marry-ontario-woman

 Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/07/04/paul_bernardos_wouldbe_wife_not_alone_in_weird_attraction_dimanno.html

 According to the tabloid press, from which all other outlets culled their information, a 30-year old, well-educated woman from a caring family in London, Ontario had become infatuated with convicted sex killer Paul Bernardo, currently in residence in an 8′ x 10′ cell at the Millhaven Institution near Kingston, On. She has told friends they intend to marry and someone leaked the information.

 This I learned in an email from London, On. talk show radio host Craig Needles inviting me to add my two cents to the cacophony. It would be impolite not to respond so I did. You can review my comments in the last half of an article posted on the radio station’s web page entitled “Government Unable to Prohibit Paul Bernardo From Communicating With London Bride-to-Be” (and possibly hear) at this link: http://www.am980.ca/2014/07/04/21952/

 I also concurrently received an email from Chris, a blind reader of one of my two books on the case, that began with the expressive acronym “WTF?”

 “Quite simply … WTF??
Will the Bernardo/Humolka case just never go away?
Is Bernardo actually capable of manipulating this woman in London, or is she just sick in the head, or perhaps both?
I’m sure you hear this a lot but ..
I came of age during the whole sordiTd affair in the early 90’s. I’ve since listened to your second book, a Pact with the Devil, thanks to CNIB having recorded it for us blind folks.”

To answer Chris’s second question, probably not. Not as long as there is a tabloid press that believes they are our eyes and ears on the vanguard and it is our right “to know”, whether we want to or not.

Certainly not as long as the tabloid-tempered are not jailed like one of their most fierce and fearless was for his part in the infamous British phone hackinig scandal.

Andy Coulson was the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s then 168-year-old sleaze fest “News of the World” and the former media chief for British Prime Minister David Cameron who sagely said upon learning of his friend’s conviction: “What this says is that it’s right that justice should be done and that no one is above the law” blah blah… http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/07/04/britain-hacking-idINKBN0F90S420140704

Not as long as there are misogynistic ministers of Justice who are completely ignorant of the internal machinations of those hopelessly conflicted institutions of punishment and rehabilitation in his purview such as our own Peter MacKay.

In the article in which I am quoted on AM980’s web page they also quote him: “We can’t stop the person from communicating through letters and emails unless there is something that is seen as harassing or criminal in it’s intent.”

The fact is no prisoner in Canada is allowed to communicate through email. Here is the government rule: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/plcy/cdshtm/085-cde-eng.shtml. All MacKay had to do was google it.

In fact, it is so difficult to communicate with anyone on the “inside” that friends and family of the incarcerated have developed a very active and well subscribed list-serve to share their experiences, frustrations and best practices for staying in touch with loved ones in prison: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/f-1403.html

If Peter MacKay does not know such stuff, what, I ask, could he possibly do about anything except   (like every politician who has ever lived), gratuitously pander to memories of innocence once again: Right after he demonstrates he knows nothing about the subject at hand “the minister says whenever he hears Bernardo’s name, he thinks about his victims”! Blah blah blah. 

When criticized the media always say it only covers stories that it knows its readers/listeners/views want. It never says how it knows. 

It’s hard to imagine that anyone wants this much coverage of something that is simultaneously irrelevant, rude, absurd, sad and yesterday’s news. 

If no one could do anything about Karla Homolka’s criminally light sentence, her release from jail in 2005 – absolutely free and clear – (including that disgraced former Attorney General for Ontario, Michael Bryant who spent millions of the taxpayers hard earned dollars aggrandizing himself in what the media portrayed as a valiant effort to impose Section 810 restrictions on her release – an order that, being an allegedly “brilliant” lawyer himself, he well knew would never be granted) 

What’s to be done about this young woman who wants to be Bernardo’s 2nd wife? Reading the media that’s apparently what everyone wants to know. 

The media reports are all veiled interrogatories about her sanity and ascribe to her what the prosecutors used as a subterfuge for the real reason they made such an unconscionable deal with Bernardo’s first wife oh so long ago; to wit, Karla was under the hypnotic spell of a Svengali-like sadistic sex killer and “forced” to do what she did much like this “fragile” young woman, “seduced” as she had been, by this pasty unattractive man who is kept locked up in a closet virtually 24/7 and with whom it is very difficult to communicate. 

No matter. One “journalist” describes Bernardo as “a singular type of character. Notorious for his cunning and charisma… ” Once again, by whom? 

This characterization of Bernardo is one put forward by the authorities after Bernardo’s arrest and during his trial in an attempt to excuse their inability to catch him and at the very least prevent the deaths of three young women and the rapes of a dozen more. It is not how anyone in possession of his biographical details or any of the actual facts of the case see the man. That portrait is one of a callow, feckless, clumsy, surprisingly stupid, cruel sexual deviate who also happens to be, literally and figuratively, a bastard. 

Regardless of the prisoner’s character flaws, they do not speak to the young woman’s character or motives. There are all kinds of prison groupies and by no means are most sad or mad.

 As that old warhorse of the True Crime genre Clifford L. Linedecker wrote in the introduction to his 1993 mass market paperback Prison Groupies:

“Even though many of the jailhouse Lotharios are drawn from a devil’s roster of some of the most ruthless and sadistic sex thrill killers in America, the women they attract are as likely to be alluring, desirable beauties with intelligence and exciting careers… “

 Linedecker goes on to back up this statement with detailed stories that include the exploits of Danielle Steele, the fabulously wealthy, multi-million-copy selling author of potboiler romances and her coupling with cons, the female lead in Stanley Kubrick’s Hollywood blockbuster “Lolita,” Sue Lyon, and the incarcerated object of her affections, and Mary Evans who was “the beautiful, bright, and educated daughter of a socially prominent and loving well-to-do family.”

 Remember Mary Evans?

 In the early ’80s Mary was a promising young criminal lawyer practicing in Knoxville, Tennessee. She was set to defend a harden criminal named William Timothy Kirk against multiple murder charges. Rather than do that she helped him escape – at gunpoint – and then went with him – four days before his trial. This stunt triggered one of the most highly publicized and substantial manhunts in the history of the South.

 Linedecker’s book documents 20 real-life cases to reinforce and illustrate his point. There are a surprising number of Paul Bernardo types, i.e. “the most ruthless and sadistic sex thrill killers” alive. After all, if they are alive (some aren’t they lived in Texas and got the needle) they can get married, go to the tuck shop once a week, sit in the cells, occasionally make a phone call, read whatever they can get their hands on – not much. That’s about it.

 But one hardly need go back to the early ’90s for such documentation and insight. Oprah did an hour-long television exploration on the subject circa 2010. http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Prison-Weddings

 It occured to me that I should offer Bernardo’s new paramour a copy of Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. It is the definitive work on the case. And exhaustive. Don’t take my word for it. Check the court records. Over the almost ten years I was unsuccessfully prosecuted for breaching court oders and publication bans, it was “proven beyond a shadow of a doubt” to be the most comprehensive and well-documented account of Paul and Karla’s lives, pre- and post-marriage and their crimes. (All kinds of readers who have posted reviews on various web pages have warned that it’s not for “the faint of heart” or the “squimish”.) Surely, it would turn this young woman off Paul Bernardo?

 Or would it?

 She might misread it, as so many have.

 Even though the prosecutor forcefully pointed out during the Bernardo trial in ’95 that regardless of who actually “took their breath” (referring to Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French) both Paul and Karla were equally guilty of first degree murder. Full stop.

 Although the official story is the one that has held the most sway, i.e. Karla was suffering from Battered Spouse Syndrome and was the “compliant victim of a sexual sadist” suffering from PTSD and one still hears “if only they had discovered the videotape evidence sooner…” Invisible Darkness portrays Karla as the managing and motivating partner and documents the fact that no one died before they moved in together. And videotape had nothing to do with her deals.

 (Also, I have actually had the temerity to point out that no one got raped until after they met in 1987, a fact that some people, particularly police people, vehemently disagree.)

 Further, there is very compelling evidence that Karla was the one that actually took their victims’ breaths, indisputably in the case of her younger sister, a murder for which no one has ever been tried. (I explained why not in both books but most people, even the few who have actually read the books, can’t seem to grasp.)

 What if this… what should I call it – “confusion”- or “interpretation” – is sufficient to drive her into matrimony, thinking. “if Karla made him do it then I can make him into a good God-fearing Christian.” Rather than firmly and unequivocally dissuade her from going through with it? what if it has the exact opposite effect? Everyone knows the road to Perdition is paved with the best of intentions. I would feel badly. I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

STRANGERS AND OTHER ANNIVERSARIES – PART III

DSCN05531-001Back to the Parisian producer who showed up at my remote farm door one dark winter’s day this January. “No, Ms. Ladous, you don’t come in,” I said.

Curiosity and my own vanity almost got the better of me but it was the “Truman Kaput; just like you and me” that brought me to my senses. There was some more terse incomprehensible imprecation as I was shutting the door but I was resolute that I was not going to entertain strangers unshaven and in my bathrobe. Also, as a man once besieged by media I long ago resolved not to allow anyone from the press (unless a friend invited for dinner) into my home. I long ago made it a rule that I would only give interviews or participate in a project from my hotel room in Toronto.

It occurred to me that Ms. Ladous must have gone to the Paula Todd School of Journalism where highjack and mendacity were main courses. But highjacking Karla Homolka, as we’ve seen, has a certain economic consequence but highjacking me? Where is the sense in that? Where are the $$ in Marina’s getting a few minutes of footage of me at the door in my bathrobe and pajama pants.

I was tempted though. I would have liked to explain that I have nothing in common with Truman Capote. He was a short man with a very large head, cross-addicted and a homosexual who wrote like an angel. I can only lay claim to one of those characteristics.

I would have also liked to know where she got the money for a transatlantic flight (for two) and how whatever she might do with this twenty-year-old case would ever square up and justify the time and expense?

As I’ve already described late last year, Ms. Ladous, a petite, dark-haired French woman reached out to Marsha via email and begged her to have me call her, so I did. Basically all I got a chance to ask was for more information about her “project”. The phone call occurred on Dec. 4, 2012. Here’s her email response to my verbal request which I received the following day:

“Following yesterday’s phone call I join you a “résumé” of the producer’s documentary movie…” And then some things similar to what she said on the phone: “To be a journalist in these circumstances is also something I want to show. In the documentary I want to follow Karla Homolka’s and Paul Bernardo’s criminal courses…I also imagine that there are questions without answer in this case, important points of detail deserving to be investigated and that could enlighten the public on this story…” blog.strangersand.marinaladous.resumelg

And then this: “For example, according to an investigator, Karla Homolka’s mother suspected that Tammy’s death was connected to Paul Bernardo, but she said nothing, is it true? We speak about battered women’s syndrome for Karla Homolka’s case, but according to an investigator, what she showed throughout this story is not compatible with the battered women’s syndrome, or the mental influence in state of suggestion. I have just finished a movie about this. The way she lives now days also proves that she does not deny nor regret her past, otherwise why was called TEALE? I read your books. I know that your testimony joins totally in my story. I shall be in Toronto on January 11th, I shall want to come back with you on the scene from this incredible file(case) that you know better that whoever.
Waiting for your answer.
Respectfully yours.
Marina L.”

I have embedded a jpg. copy of the “resume” Ms. Ladous “joined” at the top of this post. (Just off-the-cuff: It is very odd to me that almost everything I’ve seen from television people these days is printed on dark backgrounds and in an eligible font. What’s up with that?)

What she called a resume was in reality a “pitch” document in very broken English but it made a wacky kind of sense, sort of. I got the gist. It was written in the third person and began by explaining the logos at the top of the page:

“‘Lila production’ is a production comany co-developing feature movies and TV series. ‘Magneto Presse’ is a press agency producing high-quality documentaries for all major TV channels and ’13eme Rue’, owned by Universial, has commissioned us to produce ‘Marina aux pays des tueurs’ A series of 90 minutes documentaries revisiting cases involving killers around the world: Juarez, Mexico, Sweden, the Linkoping missing, French cold cases.
Marina Ladous a well-known expert in investigative reporting is the director.
In 2012, she filmed in Bagdad, Iraq. In the end of 2012, she finished a 90 minutes film about dangerous cults. In worldwide for the needs of her investigation, she was an undercover adept in different cults, and it too her a year work. She is also the director of ‘The French in front of law’ a series about difficult cases involving lawyers and judges in court. She also filmed in prison, ‘Dangerous Inmates’.
In 2006, she realized a film with FBI testimony, about Dayton Rogers, a Green-River killer copycat….”
It concludes “It has been five years since Marina speaks to us of this file. (sic. the Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo files mentioned in the mid-paragraphs.) She followed year after year the evolutions. The new life of Karla? The cold-case who could involve Paul Bernardo? The human implications of the policeman, the magistrates, the lawyers, the journalists and the witnesses. Can we emerge unscathed from this?
Marina’s experience of the criminal world makes her say that in spite of past years nobody forgot neither, Leslie or Kristen, neither Jane Doe, nor the January girl and 43 victims of Scarborough.
To decipher the criminal world is also a way to warn.
The shooting of the movie will begin on January 3rd, 2013.
We thank you in advance for the assistance you may agree to grant us.
Sincerely.
Yael Berdugo, Producer.”

I have tried to embed “live” links to the two television programs Ms. Ladous allegedly produced or worked for in this post without success. No idea why so I am just typing them in. The first about a retired elite cop living in seclusion after the brutal murder of his wife. A judge visits him to try and convince him to investigate two unsolved horrific murders. Hard to say whether this is a documentary or a re-creation: http://www.cinando.com/DefaultController.aspx?PageId=FicheFilm&IdC=11189&IdF=85915

The second about a murderer in Lyon, France called “At the Heart of Crime” hosted by Carole Rosseau: http://www.leblogtvnews.com/article-au-coeur-du-crime-avec-carole-rousseau-l-affaire-ortiz-46397949.html

I wrote back to Ms. Ladous on December 5, 2012:

“I’d be pleased to assist you in whatever way I can with the making of your documentary.
There are a few things I need to know and need for you to appreciate….” [Note: I have very specific but I think eclectic tastes in television programs and don’t want to be involved with anything that I do not understand or that I would not watch nor anything in which my input is not valued. Participating in the making of television programs, short or long, can be very time-consuming and expense-generating.]
“You told me you have read ‘Karla.’ I would not necessarily know that otherwise.
Would it be helpful to you were I able to get a French version to pass on?…. Your question about Dorothy Homolka, Karla’s mother: I don’t know who your source “investigator” is (there are a number of ill-informed people who persist in opinionating on the internet through various list-serves without even a basic working knowledge of the case) but I can tell you definitively that Mrs. Homolka did not suspect Tammy Lyn’s death was connected to either Bernardo or Karla until a good two years after the fact.

At that point of Karla’s violent separation from Mr. Bernardo, Mrs. Homolka knew something was very amiss but Karla did not tell her mother definitively until much later when her psychiatrist Dr. Hans Arndt “assisted” her composition of a comprehensive letter of confession.

Mrs. Homolka never suspected either of them had anything to do with Tammy Lyn’s death. My researcher conducted long conversations with Dorothy Homolka. Mrs. Homolka is not media-friendly, never has been and has never granted a formal interview to anyone except us.

If you knew Mrs. Homolka you would know that if she suspected such a thing she would never have sat back and accepted the coroner’s terribly flawed report that stated Tammy Lyn’s death was “accidental”.

If she knew anything she would have sounded the alarm and made sure the situation was resolved. She is not the kind of woman to keep anything to herself, including her opinions. She has many.
I could make time for you in January. What is your budget? I cannot collaborate for free, so how much of my time I could devote to you and your project depends on your budget. Let me know.

Nice to talk to you and thank you for your interest. I hope it’s a little warmer in France (I did not catch exactly where you are) at the moment than it is here in Toronto. Don’t forget your parka and toque and mittens. It’s damned cold in January in Toronto.”

A bit long you say. Perhaps, but it’s one of my pathologies that when engaged and confronted with ignorant questions or statements, I tend to go on. This is one of the reasons that I am shy of engagement and wary of strangers.

Doubly odd then, that this wayward stranger from the borderless and stateless land of Television would forsake the urbane pleasures of Paris, transverse the mighty Atlantic Ocean, make her way 90 miles northwest of Toronto in the worst snowstorm of the year to find three feet of snow accumulated in our quarter-mile long lane, had not taken the hint that the gods were against her enterprise and knock on our door. I enjoined Ms. Ladous to contact me by phone or email so that the questions I had could be answered and we could set up a proper session as I closed the door.

The local radio station was describing the school and road closures and they were legion. When we went out an hour later to go to town for supplies it was still snowing. There was no trace of Marina Ladous or her cameraman. If Marsha had not been there I would have thought I was hallucinating. I have not heard from or seen Marina Ladous again and a Google search of her name only turns up this blog?

DEVIANCE AND THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – PT II

As Maureen Dowd points out in her column today (Sunday, November 11, 2012) “Mitt Romney is president of white male America… a patriarchy… so hardcore, so redolent of country clubs and cadillacs, it made little effort not to alienate women.” (Romney is President) This isn’t the era of “Mad Men” but Romney and his people think it is. She points out that the election had the biggest gender gap in the history of the Gallop poll.

Obama won the vote of single women by a whopping 36 percentage points. So it was not the so-called “waitress moms”(Crucial Subset: Female Voters Still Deciding) – the pollster’s phrase that sounds very much like something made up in the offices of “Mad Men” – – who were stupid or out of touch – they understood that Obama inherited what I previously described as “the Titanic of all economies” from two of the whitest patriartic males in American history, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; that it wasn’t “Obama’s debt” as Mitt Romney insisted on calling it, rather America’s debt, and clearly knew all too well that the real travesty in American society and culture were the out of touch minority white males’ sense of entitlement and narrow insularity.

It wasn’t the 47 percent that always vote for Obama who are (according to Mitt) “dependent on government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them;” the people about whom it is not Mitt Romney’s job to “worry about” who are stupid, lazy and out-of-touch, rather Mitt Romney and his tribe of white, male strategists and politicos.

That 47 percent knew that a man who changes his position like most of us change our underwear could not be trusted. They knew that Romney was “faking it.” So did the single women, the “waitress moms” out there, with less than $50,000 in household incomes and therein lay Romney’s fate to be known for what he was, a faker and a Gekko. He wanted to be president so badly he could taste it.

It was Romney and his people who turned out to be the lazy ones, the ones for whom research and fact-checking meant nothing. It is they who are the victims and now, nothing but an historical footnote, if that. I had never heard of Mitt Romney before this election unleashed him on the world. He’s been vanquished along with the venal Karl Rove and the oleaginous billionaires for whom he was the Republican shill. Good riddance. Unfortunately, the Gordon Gekkos out there still run the world. To think that Obama can do anything about that is naïve. But now, at least, he has a mandate to show everyone what he can do and let’s hope that he will take the power that has been invested in him as an agent of change to do just that; change America and therefore the world, for the better. It’s time for him to exercise his “executive privilege” and stop trying to get consensus and cooperation. It’s impossible to work with people who have shown themselves prepared to resort to any means necessary to rid themselves of him and everything he stands for. It did not work over the first four years and now that the Republicans and surprise, recalcitrant and humiliated, it certainly won’t work over the next four. Reason does not work with the unreasonable. Hopefully that is the lesson that Barack Obama has taken from this public rejection of the Republican’s deviance by the “waitress moms” and that 47 percent who together wisely put him back in office.

DEVIANCE AND THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

I must say that watching Mitt Romney during this election campaign and in the three debates was both fascinating and repulsive, very similar to the reaction I had to Gordon Gekko, the oleaginous hedge fund manager impeccably invoked by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s blockbuster “Wall Street.”

Gekko was one of serial rapist and schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo’s heroes. He had a number of Gekko’s aphoristic declarations such as “Greed is Good” pasted on his bedroom wall.

I point this out in passing only because most people who are following or come to this blog only know me as the author of Invsible Darkness: The Strange Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and Karla: A Pact with the Devil.

Set in present day Wall Street in 1987 Gordon Gekko was a harbinger. He said “The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars.” (Ah, those were the good old days when the numbers were almost fathomable.)

Gekko continued in his inimitable vein: “One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market.”

Mitt Romney channels Gordon Gekko. In 1987 he was doing in real life what Gekko was doing on the big screen – hedge fund managing.

Twenty-five years later at a private $50,000 per person private fundraiser in Boca Raton on May 17, 2012, Romney/ Gekko said “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it – that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives

Doesn’t anyone know a Gekko when they see one?

Does anyone other than other One Precent-ers and 1%-er wannabes want to see a man like Mitt in the Oval Office?

I can understand that the Captains of Industry would vote for a Gekko because he is one of their own and it would be amusing to have unfettered access to a cronie’s corridor of power but I have no idea what appeals to the other 46% that Romney believes will vote for him.

Presumably, there are the 47% who are, according to Romney, going to vote for the President “no matter what.” These are, in Romney’s estimation, freeloaders. According to Romney and his camp, 47% of all Americans who vote “are dependent upon government,” “believe that they are victims,” “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it” In the Republican parlance these and other staples of life are derisively referred to as “entitlements”

What I don’t get is who are the 46% of American voters who apparently think like Romney and his cohorts that he can take their votes for granted. Never mind that the majority of these Romney supporters are well-to-do, God-fearing, bigoted white males. What else is new? I don’t get the attraction but it is a fact.

What both sides acknowledge is what the pollsters tell them – about 6-9% of the remaining voters remain undecided.

Since 1996 we have transitioned from the “soccer mom,” to the “security mom”post-9/11 to the present day “waitress mom” and they are the ones that are going to tip the scales and decide the election.

According to the pollsters and their researchers these are blue-collar white women who did not go to college and live on less than $50,000 per annum. They are not necessarily loyal to either party but right now, according to media reports, they favor a candidate who leads a party that believes all forms of social security and “entitlements” must be slashed, that only one God is great and that abortion should not be legal no matter what the circumstances.

As the Republican candidate from Indiana Richard Mourdock recently said, “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen.” There are ads currently running in Indiana that clearly show Mourdock has Romney’s full endorsement. Romney hasn’t asked for an apology or censured Mourdock or rescinded his support. So while Romney may say many things behind closed doors and occasionally even in front of them, the real Mitt Romney peeks out. Read for yourselves: “Crucial Subset: Female Voters Still Deciding“- and “Mourdock’s Comments Pose Dilemma for Romney“.

Just because a person is white, female, uneducated and makes less money than $50,000 does not mean they are stupid does it? Surely they would not vote for men and a political party that maintains the kinds of attitude and holds the beliefs that Romney and Mourdock do? If they did it would be for me another one of those “abiding mysteries.” A very wise and rich friend of mine once told me that if I could not understand another person’s behavior it was simply because they, and their behavior are stupid.

This subset of “waitress moms” represented 9 percent of all voters in 2008 and voted for Obama. If they were there in 2008, in the same position they are now, how can Obama be held responsible for the fact they are still uneducated and make less than $50,000 a year? He inherited the Titanic of all economies – one that had hit the iceberg and was headed to the ocean floor – fast – an economy as bad as The Great Depression’s, which, as every sentient being on the planet knows was the result of the Bush/Cheney Administration’s war mongering and profligate unbridled spending preceded by Reagan’s sweeping changes to regulatory policies that affected how banks and investment firms could do business.

The American economy is starting to turn around, jobs are coming back and Obama’s policies and actions are the only reason this is happening because it ain’t happening in Europe where such austere economic tactics as those Romney espouses are in full force.

As Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times recently “If you want to see how Romney’s economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep.” “Romney’s Economic Model

Unlike Mr. Romney, President Obama actually has a plan for moving onward and upward. Like I said, educated or not, a certain percentage of Americans appear to be stubbornly entrenched (i.e. stupid) in certain political doctrines and religious beliefs that are bigoted and exclusionary. How else to explain that almost half of the decided voters really want a Gekko like Romney in the White House, a man not nearly as principled or as enlightened in certain crucial areas as was George W. Bush and look at what he wrought.

It is frightening to think that the fate of this once great nation is in the hands of a subset called “waitress moms” who, by the way, are not necessarily either waitresses or mothers but rather an educational, gender and income classification of professional pollsters.

One would really think that these women would fear Romney the way women in the Niagara Peninsula once feared Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Not so. As the Times’ article reports a women named Ashley Delpidio is going to vote Romney. She is 26, works in customer service for a health insurance company and says “‘I’m a woman so obviously I believe in women’s rights’ but for her the economy is the overriding concern and she believes that Romney would do better at creating jobs.”

Not an opinion shared by Nobel-Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman who wrote in a recent column “Snow Job on Jobs” Mr. Romney “doesn’t have a plan; he’s just faking it. In saying that, I don’t mean I disagree with his economic philosophy; I do, but that’s a separate point. I mean instead, that Mr. Romney’s campaign is telling lies:” This isn’t partisanism, it’s called fact checking.

If Romney is elected he will immediately tear down whatever support “waitress moms” now have. They can kiss Planned Parenthood, Big Bird and most importantly Medicaid goodbye. Again, read Krugman on Medicare and what Romney so derisively calls Obamacare: “Death by Ideology.”

Not to mention two of the most important and success initiatives the Obama Administration has put in place: the “Race to the Top” programs in education and transportation. See Tom Friedman’s recent column “Obama’s Best Kept Secrets.”

You would only not know that a Romney lead Republican government would immediately kill all these and other many important and effective programs that the Obama administration has initiated during it’s first four years if you were blind, deaf and dumb.

If I can see all this clearly from here, how is it that this subset of 9 percent of voters in America cannot? Is it a trees for the forest phenomenon? Social amnesia? Stupidity? A recent Romney TV ad featured a young woman telling her newborn: “Dear Daughter. Welcome to America. Your share of Obama’s debit is over $50,000.”

Are Americans so gullible that they do not see right through this glib stuff? Firstly, it’s not Obama’s debt, it’s America’s. Secondly, the Obama administration did not create it, Gekkos named Bush and Cheney did. Can it really be that uneducated white women who earn less than $50,000 a year have the fate of America in their hands? I guess we’ll find out on Election Day.

PRISON OF ASSOCIATION – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

Anne Perry, the accomplished British mystery writer has written 60 books and sold over 26 million copies. She is also a convicted murderer who was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of her best girl friend Pauline Parker’s mother in 1954. (Her fellow crime writer Ian Rankin interviewed her circa 2007. The interview was uploaded to YouTube .)

Unlike Karla, who has never managed to stay completely off the radar, Juliet Hulme, the name Anne Perry was born with, got out of jail in 1959, changed her name, moved to the Oakland area in California, became a devout Mormon and eventually the famous and wealthy writer she is today. In the process she variously lived in England, the United States and even Toronto, Canada, as the Globe and Mail proudly points out. She now lives in a stylish renovated piggery in the remote fishing village of Portmahomak, 50 miles north of Inverness, on the Scottish Highlands.

It was Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures that was Anne Perry’s undoing. The provincial media in New Zealand never completely forgot the sensational case and in the excitement over the movie redoubled their efforts to find out what became of her.

Even though as teenagers Juliet and Pauline had been so close the threat of separation drove them to commit matricide, they never spoke again after their early release from prison in 1959. Ironically, in 1994 Pauline Parker was also found to be living under an assumed name on a horse farm about five miles down the road from Perry’s piggery.

As reported in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail on Saturday, October 6, 2012, Joanne Drayton, an academic and literary biographer currently living in Christchurch, New Zealand has recently written a book entitled “The Search for Anne Perry” and is on a geographically small “tour” of Canada with Ms. Perry herself.

She said “I felt compelled in a way to challenge the way that she [Anne Perry/Juliet Hulme] was perceived. It just seemed to me you can’t leave someone in a prison of association forever. You have to acknowledge that someone has moved on and changed and evolved and developed a useful contributing life apart from the thing they got horribly wrong.”

Parker and Hulme hatched a plot to murder Parker’s mother because she would not allow Pauline to accompany Juliet to South Africa in the wake of Juliet’s parent’s divorce. This enraged the two teenage girls and they devised a plan to override Mrs. Parker’s decision.

Juliet brought a half-brick in an old stocking on a walk with Pauline and her mother in a remote park just outside Christchurch and the two girls battered Mrs. Parker to death with it.

The matricide shocked and reviled New Zealand, as did Karla’s horrific crimes committed 37 years later with her then husband, Paul Bernardo. Similar to the sensational media coverage in southwestern Ontario the Kiwi media speculated that the perpetrators were insane, the Devil’s servants, sexual deviates who deserved to hang. Although sentenced to life the New Zealand government arranged for Juliet and Pauline to be quietly released after only five years.

As I pointed out in “Karla: A Pact with the Devil” Juliet and Pauline were able to disappear as were the very few other women convicted of horrific crimes throughout history who eventually get out of prison one way or the other. Winnie Ruth Judd is a good example.

When Anne Perry’s true identity was revealed in the wake of Jackson’s movie, she had just published her 19th book. Her oeuvre includes the critically acclaimed Thomas Pitt and William Monk series set during the First World War, and her annual Christmas novellas.

Joanne Drayton told the Globe reporter “Because it (the movie and the revelation of her true identity) happened to her we’ve become so, I think, fixated with…that part of her story. But it is only a very small part of her story.”

Very reluctantly Perry invited Drayton to the Scottish Highlands and they spent nine days talking about her life.

“The book is crafted around what Drayton calls a conversation between the adult Anne and the child Juliet, a journey as opposed to an interrogation. While Perry, now 73, participated, this is not an authorized biography. Apparently Perry has not read it.

Recently in what Joanne Drayton described as “a surprise move” Perry decided to appear with Drayton at two upcoming Canadian festivals, Wordfest in Calgary and Banff, October 9 -14and at the Vancouver Writers Fest, October 16 -21.).

“When people can’t allow you to be something better than the murderer ever, then it’s a permanent sentence.”

I don’t know about that. Since I did the research and wrote Karla I haven’t given Anne Perry a second thought – until now. Frankly, I don’t know what the fuss is about. She is whoever she is and it is what ever it is. It seems to me that all anyone is up to in these mysteries that become connundrums wrapped in mental confusion is selling books.