Strangers volunteer to help freed Homolka
People offering money: Lawyer
Some even want her as roommate

Jun. 22, 2005. 06:37 AM


MONTREAL Strangers are stepping forward to offer Karla Homolka places to live and even financial support when she's released from prison in less than two weeks, says her lawyer, Sylvie Bordelais.


The offers of help are coming mostly from women, some of them mothers, who believe that Canada's most notorious female inmate deserves a break in starting her new life after serving the full 12-year sentence for her role in the slayings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, Bordelais said in a wide-ranging and rare interview with the Toronto Star at her office in the northeast end of this city.


While not disclosing specific details about the would-be benefactors, Bordelais said some people are even offering to share an apartment with Homolka. It's expected that the 35-year-old St. Catharines native will go on welfare and live in Montreal.


Bordelais, a 41-year-old native of Paris, has been representing Homolka for four years, but it was only recently that the lawyer shot to national prominence after a hearing to determine if restrictions should be placed on Homolka after her release.


For Bordelais, representing Homolka at the hearing was a matter of principle. Homolka had lived up to her end of the plea bargain and there was no need for further restrictions on her freedom, the lawyer argued.


"When you pay your debt to society you are done with it," she said.


But Bordelais lost that legal battle, and for a lawyer who has built a career championing the rights of prison inmates, it was a bitter blow, say those who know her.


Since the hearing, Bordelais said, about 30 criminal lawyers have called her or emailed their support, along with their concerns over the outcome of what was known as the 810 hearing, a reference to the section of the Criminal Code that allows authorities to place restrictions on inmates after they leave prison, and what it means to the rights of inmates.


Homolka must observe the restrictions, such as reporting regularly to police, for a year, or risk going back to jail.


Bordelais says she dealt with Homolka the way she treats all her clients. "I try to see all of them as human beings, no matter what they did."


She met Homolka in 1998 when she was transferred to Joliette after the women's prison in Kingston closed.


When asked how her star client is doing, Bordelais would say only that "she is stressed."