Bernardo author called `a criminal'
Stephen Williams guilty of breaking publication ban
Named rape victims and sold video of attack
Jan. 15, 2005. 01:00 AM
by Nick Pron and Robert Benzie
Author Stephen Williams has been branded
"a jerk ... a criminal" by the province's top law officer after
admitting he sold a video clip of the rape of Tammy Lynn Homolka to U.S.
cable giant HBO.
The horrific and graphic video of the
sexual assault on Karla Homolka's younger sister has never been shown to
the public, but the author of two books on the Paul Bernardo case was able
to get a portion of the banned video from "sources," he told a
packed courtroom yesterday.
Williams, 55, pleaded guilty to one count
of violating a court order when he published on a website names and other
information that could identify 15 women whose anonymity was protected by
four court orders.
Attorney General Michael Bryant called
Williams "a serial trafficker in the human misery of victims."
Said Bryant to reporters: "Victims
will not come forward to the justice system ... when they've been victims
of sexual assault if they think some jerk is going to stick their identity
and their story up on a website."
The women, one as young as 14 at the time,
had either been raped by Bernardo or testified against the convicted
killer, who was sentenced to life in prison in September, 1995 for the sex
killings of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.
Williams received a suspended sentence �
75 hours of community service and three years of probation � from Mr.
Justice Derek Hogg, who said his actions "disturbed the lives of many
Prosecutor Sarah Welch told the court that
the harm done by Williams "could never be undone," calling it a
"re-victimization" of the women.
Williams repeatedly broke the court bans,
in one case identifying one victim with 50 separate references, she said.
One of the victims described Williams as an
"exploiting bastard," with less class than Bernardo, according
to a victim impact statement read by Welch.
"He (Williams) betrayed my fight for
anonymity, my right to privacy. At least Bernardo was honest in his rape.
He made no pretence that it was anything but," she wrote.
Those remarks angered lawyer Edward
Greenspan, who represented Williams.
He described Williams' crime as a
misdemeanour, going on to say it was "sheer hysteria," and
"morally repugnant" to compare his client to Bernardo.
Greenspan said the investigation into
Williams, with as many as 50 police officers, was akin to
"administrative vengeance" because his book, Invisible Darkness:
The Strange Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, "exposed the
ineptitude at the highest levels of policing in this country."
If Williams had written a book that was
"favourable to the Crown we wouldn't be here today," he said.
He described the Williams case as a
"clash of Charter rights � freedom of expression and the protection
But Welch told the judge it was a
straightforward case of defying a court order.
According to court documents, Williams
wanted publicity for his website, bragging to a Globe and Mail reporter in
an April, 2003, email that he had a "big lollipop" for him �
an "extremely controversial" website that contained Crown
documents, police photographs and videotape from the Bernardo case.
Williams shut down the website soon after
realizing the material identified victims of Bernardo. But it was too
late, "like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted,"
Williams testified yesterday that he was
paid an unspecified amount by HBO for "very short clips" of the
rape of Karla's sister, who died after being drugged and abused by
Bernardo and Homolka.
The tape was for a show on forensic
pathology, said Williams.
Crown acted out of vengeance, lawyer says
By Kirk Makin
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Jan 15, 2021
An unrepentant Stephen Williams blasted
authorities yesterday, saying they were pursuing a vendetta against him,
moments after a Crown prosecutor had accused him of callously posting the
identities of Paul Bernardo's sexual-assault victims on his website.
In a prosecution his lawyer called �a
case of administrative vengeance,� the author of two books critical of
the investigation into the Bernardo crimes said police exaggerated the
effect of publishing the information.
�Police officers lied to the women,�
Mr. Williams said outside the courtroom after pleading guilty to one
charge of violating publication bans. �They led them to believe [the
website] was up for access for months and that people all over the world
had read it.�
The 55-year-old author also scorned a
series of poignant victim-impact statements read to the court, saying they
were obviously �scripted by the police. From the moment I was arrested,
they began honing these women.�
Mr. Williams' outburst came after Ontario
Court Judge Derek Hogg gave him a suspended sentence, three years
probation and 75 hours of community service.
In return for 97 charges being dropped, Mr.
Williams also promised under oath never to possess, distribute, sell or
broadcast material from the Crown's Bernardo files.
Crown counsel Sarah Welch pulled no punches
in describing Mr. Williams as a reckless man who fully intended to peddle
horrific crime photographs and videotapes on his website for personal
She said that Mr. Williams identified rape
victims by name and supplied lurid details of the sexual indignities they
suffered or were forced to perform on Mr. Bernardo.
Far from being a victim or champion of free
expression, Ms. Welch said, Mr. Williams knew full well there were
She said that almost 5,000 people visited
the site, including police and reporters, during the short time it was up.
She said that any of them could have downloaded or copied material.
�These breaches of the publication bans
show, at a minimum, a cavalier and wanton disregard for the orders of the
court,� Ms. Welch said.
According to a joint statement of fact, two
months after Mr. Williams had supposedly turned over all his material from
a file about the Bernardo case, known as the Crown brief, to comply with a
direct court order in a civil lawsuit the Crown has brought against him,
police discovered several computers with the same material on them at his
farm and in his truck.
These included duplications of the brief
and hundreds of postmortem and crime-scene photos of victims Kristen
French, Leslie Mahaffy and Tammy Homolka, and another victim known as Jane
Among them were graphic photographs of Ms.
Mahaffy's severed head and body parts, inexpertly concealed in cement
blocks Mr. Bernardo had cast.
�What is even more troubling is that the
police discovered on his home computers horrific video clips depicting the
sexual assaults of Jane Doe and Tammy Homolka,� Ms. Welch said. �Mr.
Williams is anything but a victim. In the Crown's submission, he has
caused significant harm to these women.�
Defence counsel Edward Greenspan termed the
case a classic clash between free expression and the privacy rights of
victims who have suffered mightily.
He said authorities became �extremists,�
throwing a distinguished writer in jail overnight and laying scores of
�It was, I suggest, one of the darkest
days for freedom of expression in this country's history,� Mr. Greenspan
said. �This is a case of administrative vengeance.�
The appearance of the victims' names was a
mistake that Mr. Williams immediately rectified by collapsing his website
and later apologizing, he said.
Other authors who have written about the
Bernardo case, including Maclean's magazine, have printed the banned names
of victims, Mr. Greenspan added, yet police have never bothered them.
He said that Mr. Williams's mistake was to
infuriate �many individuals in privileged positions of power� by
writing books that exposed their ineptitude in the notorious murder case.
Mr. Greenspan took particular issue with a
rape victim whose statement called Mr. Williams worse than Mr. Bernardo
� who she said was at least honest about his intention to rape her.
�It is repugnant to even dare, in a
courtroom, to make them morally equal,� he said. �We have left the
world of sanity and gone into the world of hysteria.�
In testimony yesterday, Mr. Williams also
said he sold numerous videotapes and files to several television stations.