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Bernardo admits more rapes

The Toronto Star, NICK PRON, STAFF REPORTER, Feb. 21, 2006

Paul Bernardo, jailed for life in Kingston Penitentiary for murdering two teenage girls and committing 14 rapes, recently confessed to sexually assaulting at least 10 other women in attacks not previously blamed on him, the Star has learned.

The authorities were told of the assaults this past November, information relayed to them from Bernardo, who wanted to clear up some "loose ends" in his case, a source said.

It is not clear why Bernardo has decided to come forward now more than 10 years after he was convicted to confess to the new series of rapes he claims to have committed between 1986 and 1991.

The majority of those assaults took place in 1986, a year before what police have called the beginning of the reign of terror by the Scarborough Rapist.

While authorities suspected Bernardo had been involved in other crimes, such as a string of rapes in Amherst, N.Y., or the mysterious drowning death of Terri Anderson in St. Catharines, he has never acknowledged until now his involvement in any other offences.

In 1993, Bernardo's ex-wife, Karla Homolka, told police how Bernardo once bragged to her that he had raped as many as 30 women, double the 15 assaults police suspected he had committed. She described him as "the happy rapist."

Bernardo, now 41, was convicted in 1995 for the slayings of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, and sentenced to life in prison, with no hope of parole for 25 years.

After his trial, he confessed to sexually assaulting 14 women and was declared a dangerous offender, meaning he can be jailed indefinitely. Typically, hearings are held every few years to determine if a person should be released.

Bernardo is housed in a cell about three paces long and an arm's-width across in a wing off-limits to other inmates. Prison officials have refused all requests for interviews.

The latest development in the decade-old case came late last year when Bernardo asked his lawyer, Tony Bryant, to forward to the authorities his involvement in other assaults.

Late last night, Bryant had little to say about the latest chapter in the never-ending saga.

"My client has instructed me to take some appropriate steps to clear some outstanding issues," Bryant said.

It wasn't clear if any of the 10 women Bernardo is now saying he assaulted have been re-interviewed by police. A senior officer with the force declined comment.

Until now, it was believed Bernardo's rampage started in May 1987 when a woman was assaulted after getting off a bus late at night in Scarborough. Police later dubbed her attacker the Scarborough Rapist, and launched one of the biggest manhunts in Toronto, at one time offering a reward of $150,000 for his capture.

In the wake of the rapes, the TTC allowed bus drivers to let passengers get off closer to home, and not just at bus stops, to foil any attacks by predators.

The task force hunting the rapist, at one time numbering 50 officers, was quietly disbanded by 1991 as the attacks stopped, around the same time Bernardo had moved to St. Catharines.

In August 1991, investigators in St. Catharines acknowledged publicly the person they were looking for in Mahaffy's slaying may be the same person wanted by Toronto police for the Scarborough rapes.

During the three years of rapes in Scarborough, police said the prowler had attacked eight women. In fact, investigators suspected the number was 12 but never made that figure public for investigative reasons.

`My client has instructed me ... to clear some outstanding issues'

--Tony Bryant, Paul Bernardo's lawyer

The police got close to an arrest after the attack on his eighth victim on Sheppard Ave., near Midland Ave., in May 1990.

She gave police his description and Bernardo was asked to come in for questioning when police got a tip he looked like the composite sketch.

But he was released after questioning and a DNA sample he gave to investigators at the time languished on a shelf at the crime lab while he moved to Port Dalhousie, going on to murder the two schoolgirls and rape another woman.

Bernardo and Homolka also drugged her sister, Tammy, and assaulted her. She choked on her vomit and died, the death ruled accidental at the time.

Bernardo was arrested after police spoke with Homolka when she left him. He beat her and threatened to kill her.

When his DNA sample was finally tested, he was linked to 15 rapes in Scarborough and Toronto. In 1995, he confessed to 13 of the attacks, plus the 14th assault in Port Dalhousie.

Details of the new assaults were sketchy, such as one that is said to have occurred sometime in 1989 outside an apartment building at Kennedy Rd. and the 401 area.

One assault took place in March 1986 on Sir Raymond Dr. in Guildwood Village, where Bernardo lived with his parents.

According to sources, at least one of the rapes took place at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus in late 1986.

In 1990, U of T student Elizabeth Bain disappeared from the same campus. Her body was never found and Robert Baltovich was convicted in 1992 of second-degree murder in her death and jailed. He was released on bail in 2000 pending an appeal.

During the appeal, Baltovich's lawyers raised the possibility Bernardo should be considered a viable suspect in Bain's murder, after presumably being introduced to her.

The appeal court overturned the verdict in December 2004, ordering a new trial after criticizing Baltovich's trial judge for his pro-Crown charge to the jury that "denigrated and ridiculed" his defence.

It's not known what impact Bernardo's admission to the sexual assault at the U of T's Scarborough campus will have on Baltovich's new trial.

Pre-trial arguments in the trial are tentatively slated for this summer. Baltovich's next court appearance is March 23.

The authorities had long suspected Bernardo was responsible for other assaults and even murders. Investigators had gone to his cell and questioned him about the murders of Lynda Shaw and Cindy Halliday.

But Bernardo maintained he had no involvement in any slayings, including French and Mahaffy, blaming his former wife for killing the two teens.

Homolka was released from prison last July after serving out her full 12-year sentence for her role in the slayings. She is living in the Montreal area.

While Halliday's slaying has never been solved, investigators said DNA has convinced them a paroled killer living in a halfway house in Woodstock killed Shaw. He has since died.

It was Homolka who first raised the spectre that Bernardo may have raped other women, at least 16 and as many as 30.

In interviews with police in 1993, after she was convicted for her involvement in the deaths of French and Mahaffy, she said he bragged about the other rapes in a "really happy voice ... his chest puffed out, like a rooster."

Chronology

Jan. 5, 1988: Police interview Paul Bernardo's ex-girlfriend and report he should be considered a suspect in the case of the Scarborough Rapist.

Dec 24, 1990: Tammy Homolka, 15, sister of Karla Homolka, dies after being drugged and sexually assaulted by Bernardo and Karla.

June 15, 1991: Leslie Mahaffy, 14, is abducted in Burlington by Bernardo.

June 29, 1991: Mahaffy's remains found encased in concrete in Lake Gibson. They are found by fisherman on the same day Homolka marries Bernardo.

April 16, 1992: Kristen French, 15, is abducted by Homolka and Bernardo. She is sexually assaulted and killed. Body found in Burlington April 30.

Jan. 6, 1993: Homolka leaves Bernardo.

Feb. 1, 1993: Bernardo's DNA test shows a match to Scarborough Rapist.

Feb. 9, 1993: Police interview Homolka for six hours; she never mentions the murders, or circumstances of sister's death.

Feb. 17, 1993: Bernardo arrested for rapes, named prime suspect in French, Mahaffy murders.

May 14, 1993: Province signs plea-bargain with Homolka in return for testimony against Bernardo.

May 18, 1993: Homolka is charged with two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of French and Mahaffy.

May 19, 1993: Bernardo is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated sexual assault, and one count of committing an indignity to a body.

June 28, 1993: Homolka's trial begins

July 6, 1993: Homolka is convicted of manslaughter in the two slayings during a closed, one-day trial and sentenced to 12 years.

July 6, 1993: Homolka delivered to Kingston Prison for Women.

July 20, 1993: Tammy Homolka's body is exhumed for a second autopsy.

March 30, 1994: Crown cancels Bernardo's preliminary hearing and sends him directly to trial.

May 4, 1994: Bernardo pleads not guilty

Sept. 1, 1995: Bernardo found guilty, gets life term.

Nov. 2, 1995: Bernardo declared dangerous offender, jailed indefinitely. Admits 13 of 15 attacks blamed on Scarborough Rapist.

Jan. 6, 1997: Homolka eligible for day parole.

June 10 1997: Homolka is moved to the prison for women in Joliette, Que.

March 8, 2001: Parole board rules Homolka must serve full sentence.

July 4, 2005: Homolka released from prison.