BONOKOSKI: Questions remain about Bernardo’s transfer to a medium-security prison
BONOKOSKI: Questions remain about Bernardo’s transfer to a medium-security prison

Back when Paul Bernardo was known in the media as the “Scarborough Rapist” and had not yet morphed into a notorious schoolgirl rapist and killer, Anne Kelly was just starting her career as a case management worker with Correctional Services Canada.

From there, she began climbing the ladder.

Now, at the apex of her career as Commissioner of Correctional Services (CSC), the top gig in the federal incarceration department, she found herself publicly explaining why Bernardo was recently moved from the hardcore, maximum-security Millhaven prison in Kingston to the medium-security institution in the Quebec town of La Macaza.

This is not normally done, but there is nothing normal about Paul Bernardo by any stretch of the imagination. Not to Kelly. Not to anyone.

Bernardo is serving a life sentence for kidnapping, torturing and killing Leslie Mahaffy, 14, and Kristen French, 15, in the early 1990s near the Ontario town of St. Catharines.

He lured the girls into his car and then, with the help of his fiancée-then-wife Karla Homolka, held them hostage in the couple’s Port Dalhousie home, where they were raped and murdered.

He was also found guilty of manslaughter in the rape and drugging death of Homolka’s sister Tammy, 15.

Before that, he was the “Scarborough Rapist,” admitting after his trial to sexually assaulting at least 14 young women in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Anne Kelly was just starting out on her career.

He attacked most from behind, dragging them into bushes with a knife to their throats. Rather than going through another trial, the Crown applied to have him declared a “dangerous offender” — a designation reserved for Canada’s most violent criminals and sexual predators. So he’s the worst of the worst.

Tim Danson, long-time lawyer for the victims’ families, said he was stunned when a CSC official called him last week to tell him about Bernardo’s transfer.

He said they told him they weren’t able to disclose the reasons, based on Bernardo’s privacy rights.

Well, that’s when it all hit the fan. The country went into an uproar and had not changed its mind that the psychopath Bernardo should rot in the isolation of a maximum-security prison cell until he is called to Hell.

It had not expected Bernardo to be transferred to the medium-security Laurentian mountain prison of La Macaza where, coincidentally, sexual offenders are the force of its existence.

In fact, sex offenders make up two-thirds of the prison’s inmate population.

So, Anne Kelly was called up to explain it all.

Kelly said the committee assigned to review Bernardo’s transfer concluded that while the decision to transfer the serial killer was “sound” and the corrections agency “went above policy in this case to notify victims, additional steps could have been taken to provide more information.”

“We contacted all of the registered victims prior to this announcement, and I spoke directly to those wishing to be walked through the findings,” said Kelly. 

“What they have gone through is unimaginable. Public safety, and their safety, continues to be top of mind for us in any decisions we make,” she added.

“Hearing about this case so intensely over the past days has brought up strong emotions, and rightly so. I regret any pain and concern this transfer has caused.”

But, in the end, Bernardo was going nowhere.

La Macaza would be his home, hopefully until he is finally leaves in a box.

Just don’t bet on it.

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