While the hot car death of Cooper Harris has America shell shocked, another couple is disturbing Canadians today. That couple is Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka for events that happened in the 1990's. But that is not what Canada is upset about today. What Canada is upset about is that Paul Bernardo convicted serial rapist and murderer has been writing to a 30-year-old London, Ont., woman for the past year, and intends to marry her. Many Canadians want this stopped, and have been asking since this story broke in early July how they can protest and what they can do to make it stop. A Port Hope, Ontario, woman is not waiting for the government to answer, and has already started a petition to stop this wedding according to Northumberland News on July 10.
Paul Bernardo is currently serving time in Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont., a federal prison for maximum security prisoners, for crimes that he committed throughout the 1980's and 1990's. The Toronto Relationships Examiner chronicled the multiple crimes committed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, his then wife, when news broke last week that Paul Bernardo intends to marry again.
Paul Bernardo's ex-wife has served her 12 year prison term and now lives in the Caribbean with her new husband and three children. That there are children who depend on Karla Homolka to survive makes the stomachs of Canadians churn with disgust given what many know about her sordid involvement in the deaths of Leslie Mahaffy, Kristen French, and even her own sister Tammy Homolka.
But even that is not what bothers Canadians most about this case. What Canadians are upset about today is that Paul Bernardo has been writing to another woman, and wants to marry her. Tim Danson, a lawyer for the Mahaffy and French families has told 610 CKTB News that the reaction of the victims families is that they find this "appalling and incomprehensible."
They are not alone.
A writer for The Observer in Sarnia published an opinion piece on the matter just last week, summing up what a lot of Canadians are feeling right now about the future potential of Paul Bernardo's relationships,
"The concern isn't that he's going to get out of prison. It's that from within his cell, he's going to continue to destroy the minds of innocent victims. It's time to cut this monster off from any access to the outside world once and for all."
It is a concern that Catherine Cowles of Port Hope, Ont. wants addressed. Catherine is seeking a change to the legislation in who maximum security inmates are allowed to communicate to and who they aren't, "specifically regarding inmates who have committed violent sex crimes."
Catherine told the Northumberland News something that a lot of Canadians agree with,
"I think it's ridiculous that he is allowed to communicate with women in a romantic or sexual nature after the crimes he committed. We don't let child molesters write letters to children while they are incarcerated. We shouldn't allow men who sexually assault women to write women while incarcerated. It just doesn't make sense."
Catherine is hoping her intent reaches as far as Attorney General and Minister of Justice Peter McKay.
The Justice Department, and specifically Peter MacKay has told CBC News since the story broke that there wasn't anything the government could do at this time to prevent Bernardo from writing whoever he wants. MacKay told CBC that the government will not be stepping in on this, "unless the messages are harassing or contain criminal intent."
MacKay also told the CBC that whenever the name Paul Bernardo comes up, his first thought it always to the victim's families. Those families include the Mahaffy family and the French family, to name just two of the familes affected by tragedies caused by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.
Catherine Cowles of Port Hope doesn't think Paul Bernardo should have even those rights.
"He does not deserve the same rights as people who do not commit these crimes. This upcoming marriage needs to be stopped. Do I think he is rehabilitated enough to wed? I can't answer that. What I can tell you is I find it difficult to believe that a person can go from a terrorizing serial killer to loving husband."
Should Paul's rights to communicate with the public be banned? Is he still a danger to society? The father of Paul's girl has a very strong position on that, as do many other Canadians.
The Toronto Sun was the first to break this story, after having several conversations with the bride-to-be, and her friends and family. Dad told the Toronto Sun as soon as the story broke,
"He has convinced her he didn't do this (rapes and murder). I've been very explicit that he actually did these things and reality sunk in this last week in a big way."
The woman has renamed nameless, but it has been reported that during the time she has been writing to Paul Bernardo in prison, she got a tattoo on her ankle that reads "Paul's Girl". Many have wondered about her own mental state, and what could cause her to fall in love with someone not only in prison, but capable of such gruesome crimes.
Global News at the time referred to it as a condition known as hybristophilia, where women fall in love with men convicted or behind bars, because it gives them all of the control in the relationship. A control that ensures they can never be hurt by someone who is behind bars, unable to cheat on them, injure them, or break their hearts.
The Toronto Sun described conversations where the life of "Paul's Girl" seemed fairly "normal", but reported that "something happened after Grade 10". Her father told the Toronto Sun,
"She has a number of bad relationships that has undermined her self-esteem despite her brilliance. She is looking for someone who will love her unconditionally."
Up until last year "Paul's Girl" reportedly still had connections with friends and family, but ended up losing a job, and was described as someone that had "fallen off the grid." That would be around the same time that she reportedly began writing to Paul Bernardo.
The Sun describes her "trapped between what she feels is love and reality" and says, her eyes well up with tears whenever she talks about how she feels about the man that Canada knows as the Scarborough Rapist and murderer.
She told the Toronto Sun,
"If I could go back in time and find another person…there are things that should not have happened. When you don't know certain things and you feel a certain way. I am a little bit confused and conflicted. I didn't….realize the situation."
In that interview, "Paul's Girl" also described Paul Bernardo as "a nice person."
Do you also believe that Canadian legislation should change to prevent serial rapists from forming relationships outside of prison?
This petition initiated by Catherine Cowles can be found here.
Do you think Paul Bernardo has a right to get married again?