Ottawa doc fears for public
Karla doesn't fit battered wife profile

Sat, June 4, 2005

AN OTTAWA psychiatrist says the public should fear Karla Homolka when she is released from prison next month.

Dr. John Bradford, head of forensic psychiatry at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, has viewed the infamous videotapes detailing the sexual torture of three southern Ontario teen girls at the hands of Homolka and her ex-husband Paul Bernardo and he believes the 35-year-old played a significant role.

"She seems to be operating pretty independently in the videotapes from a sexual standpoint," said Bradford. "She engaged in sexual activity with the victims in a way that was not coerced."

Homolka has often been portrayed as a battered wife, beaten and under the spell of her sexually sadistic husband who forced his young bride to take part in the rape and torture of the young girls. But Bradford says Homolka doesn't even come close to meeting the criteria of a battered wife.


Battered women are typically timid, passive and lack independence, he says. They are usually never allowed out of the sight of their partner and easily controlled.

"Anybody who knows what this woman is like, or her history or how she was brought up knows that just doesn't fit," said Bradford, who assessed Bernardo in Ottawa before he was sentenced to life behind bars 10 years ago for the sex slayings of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

Referring to Homolka as the "pharmacist," Bradford said she's the one who acquired the drugs used to knock their victims unconscious.

Bradford has never assessed Homolka but has reviewed reports and analyzed the videotapes.

Although he admits evidence shows Bernardo did beat Homolka with a flashlight, he said that came at the end of their relationship.

"There is no evidence at all before that of her being abused and threatened or coerced," he said.

Although some recent psychiatric reports suggest Homolka is not a threat to society, Bradford argues the authors haven't seen the gruesome videotapes.

"If you're somebody who was not involved and never saw the videotapes and you then see her 12 years later with a very good institutional record, it's easy to say she is not a risk," Bradford said.

Not trying to minimize Bernardo's violent sexual assaults prior to meeting Homolka, Bradford said it wasn't until the couple met that people began to die.

"He never killed anybody unless he was teamed up with her," he said. "She is being portrayed as a victim opposed to an independent operator with sexually deviant interests. There's no question she was a participant. There's no question she played a major role."


Highlights of the 18 psychological and psychiatric reports on Karla Homolka entered into evidence yesterday at her court hearing:

- Dr. L. D. Presse, January 2001, Regional Psychiatric Centre, Saskatoon:

Personality tests suggested Homolka is a rigid perfectionist with a fear of social disapproval: "It seemed obvious that she tends to seek social approval and finds criticism difficult to handle."

Presse said Homolka has agonized over her role in these offences and displays "considerable remorse" when she reflects on the suffering of the victims.

Presse said Homolka doesn't "appear to have violent tendencies, sexually deviant interests or a substance abuse problem" and her risk to reoffend is "much lower than that of the majority of federal offenders."

- Dr. Robin Menzies, December 2000, Regional Psychiatric Centre, Saskatoon

Menzies said Homolka's efforts to hide her three-year lesbian love affair with fellow inmate Lynda Veronneau from her parents was similar to her coverup of Bernardo's abuse. Homolka said Veronneau was "emotional, generous, non-controlling, very compliant, docile, easily controlled." Homolka denied any interest in fetishism or sado-masochism.

Menzies also said that Homolka is a low risk to reoffend: "I believe that in the circumstances and considering the gravity of the offences, it is important to err on the side of caution."

Menzies concluded that Homolka has no personality disorder, but is emotionally superficial, self-centred and narcissistic.

- Dr. Gene Marcoux, December 2000, Regional Psychiatric Centre, Saskatoon

Marcoux said Homolka does not have a personality disorder, but warned "problematic" aspects of her personality that pre-dated Bernardo are re-emerging as she resolves her own abuse issues. "These dimensions are bolstering the psychological defences she has used to resist looking at why she offended," Marcoux wrote. Those personality traits include "vulnerability" and "moral vacuity."

- Dr. Sharon Williams, March 1999, Joliette Institution, Quebec

Williams said that Homolka "has spent considerable time in therapy exploring 'toxic guilt' and her inability to protect her sister as well as the young women who were repeatedly sexually assaulted and eventually murdered by Karla and her husband Paul Bernardo."

Williams also noted a dramatic change in Homolka's appearance from 1996: "She was vivacious ... and dressed in a bolder and more stylish manner." That, combined with Homolka's desire for early release, "could be interpreted as showing a lack of deeper understanding of the impact of her offences on society."

Williams concluded: "The public is, indeed, likely to oppose any form of community interaction or proximity due to the repugnant nature of the crime and perception that she received an extremely lenient sentence."