The following letter was written by Karla Homola to Correctional Services Canada in 2003 -- ten years after she was sent to prison for her role in the deaths of teenagers Tammy Lyn Homolka, Leslie Mahaffy, and Kristen French:
Listen to what I have to say.
When I arrived at the women's Kingston prison, in july 1993, I was in a state of utter depression. Seven well-known psychiatrists examined me and concluded that I was a battered wife with post-traumatic stress disorder and that, consequently, I had an "urgent need" of psychological counseling. Kingston's correctional institution psychiatrists even corroborated this opinion.
Now that I have been regularly treated for seven years by a system which pretends to rehabilitate people who are incarcerated, all of a sudden I have been classified as a dangerous incurable psychopath. How can such a thing happen in a correctionnal system which prides itself of having a new approach towards women?
The idea that I have been the "compliant victim of a sexual sadist", and that I have submitted myself to "all the cycles of sexual violence", wasn't mine. It was the opinion of Drs Arndt, Long, Malcom, Hatcher, Hucker, Jaffe and McDonald. This diagnostic is included in their reports and those are part of my file.
When I first met Dr Arndt, I had no idea what mental depression was. I never dealt with a psychologist or a psychiatrist before. I also had never heard of Lonore Walker's theories about "battered woman syndrome" or "post-traumatic stress disorder'.
So I didn't invent the battered wife notion to save my skin. In fact, my lawyer had even advised me that a defense based on this idea would not work out.
Nevertheless, that how I was evaluated. Nine specialist, among whom two were from the Correctional Services, examined me between 1993 and 1995 and arrived to this conclusion. Policemen, Crown prosecutors and the Court all believed in this version.
Should I now rise and say: "No, no, wait! I am not a battered woman"? Such an attitude would not be conform to human nature. So I had to believe them. I felt like a battered woman. I had the symtoms of a battered woman. What I would like to know today is why the Correctional Service change his opinion and acts like this diagnostic never existed. It was on the basis of this diagnostic that a deal was first made with my lawyer. And it is on the basis of this diagnostic that I was treated for seven years!
From the very first months of my incarceration at Kingston, I asked to be sent to a place where I could obtain a therapy conform to my needs. Correctional Services refused, telling me I would find appropriate care in jail.
I was then assigned therapist Jan Heney and psychiatrist Roy Brown. I thereby started a therapy with them consisting of three or four meetings a week. According to Dr Brown's reports, which are part of my prison file, I succeeded to make progress during the two years which followed.
If Correctional Services had any doubts about my psychological state, why did it permit these therapists to treat me according to the first diagnostic? They had many possibilities. They could have treated me like a sexual aggressor or a psychopath. Or they could have granted my request and sent me to a psychiatric institute. All of this is mentioned in my file. Prosecutor Murray Segal and the Justice Ministry of Ontario didn't have any objection to this transfer.
If Correctional Services didn't do anything of the sort, it was probably because they would have put themselves in a conflictual situation regarding the policemen and prosecutors who needed its collaboration to convince me to testify at my ex-husband's trial.
And what happened in the fall of 1995, when the trial was over? I had nothing but praise from the policemen for my performance in court. They even said not to listen to wicked tongues who were accusing me of being a psychopathic killer or a monster.
If Correctional services treated me according to my diagnostic by sheer prudence, as I was then in contact with many policemen and Ontario prosecutors, why didn't it switch sides right after the trial? Once all those people had gone, they could have begun a treatment designed for sexual aggressors and antisocial offenders, if they believed that I was one.
No, after my testimony in court, the prison continued my therapy conforming themselves to my initial diagnostic. Nothing seemed to have changed. They asked me to participate in various programs designed for battered and psychological unstable women, and I accepted. As the prison reports show, I succeeded in all of them and the authorities were pleased with my general behavior.
During all this time, before as well as after my testimony at Bernardo's trial, everybody realized that I was making progress and that my condition was getting better. All the reports of the prison authorities, psychiatrists and psychologists went to that effect. At the moment where he retired in 1996, Dr Brown said that he considered me as cured.
In 1996, Correctional Services called Dr Sharon Williams, a Queen's University specialist known for her expertise in sexual violence and psychotic problems matters. After I underwent a series of tests, Mrs Williams concluded that I wasn't a psychopath in any way. To her knowledge, I wasn't a danger neither for myself, nor other inmates or society in general. It is under her recommendation that Correctional services decided to transfer me to Joliet.
In passing, Mrs Williams was part of a group of psychologists who had elaborated, for Correctional Services, the first program designed for female sexual offenders. Nobody enticed me to follow this program. Even if it wasn't entirely official, Correctional Services writes on their Web site that, during the last eight years, at least twenty-four inmates have been treated as sexual aggressors.
In 1999, soon after I asked to be released under escort, Dr Williams made another evaluation of my psychological state. Again, she reiterated that I was neither a psychopath nor anti-social or a sexual aggressor, and that there was no reason that I would be sent to a maximum security prison.
This second opinion, it seems, didn't please, Correctional Services who forwarded my file to Dr Van Gijseghem, one of its occasional consultants.
According to the last reports submitted to the Commission by my parole officers, I had shown no interest for the new programs or therapies proposed by the prison since my arrival in St-Anne-des-Plaines in April 2001. But what do the Correctional Services psychiatrists and psychologists want me to do? What can I bring now that hadn't been said over and over before?
Considering the extreme importance accorded by Correctional Services to Dr Van Gijseghem and Menzies, against the opinion of the majority of those who examined me during all those years, I do not see why I would submit myself to new programs and new evaluations. If you want to believe blunt reports against most serious studies, go ahead!
If you want a different opinion than all my psys, you can cast your eyes towards some opinions on my case by psychiatrists hired by my ex-husband. It seems Correctional Services never looked at this counter-expertise. I suggest reading "Invisible Darkness" by Stephen Williams. I heard that author quotes abundantly the opinions of those psychiatrists. This book was published in the fall of 1996. I haven't read it, but I was told that it was the most pertinent book written on my case, and also the least affectionate.
According to what I've learned, Drs Graham Clancy, Nathan Pollack and John Money were disputing the opinions of my nine psychiatrists. They extracted the contradictions and other litigious things that their reports contained. Finally, they concluded that I suffered from something like "histrionic hybristophily" more than of an anti-social, narcissistic or psychopathic personality.
There were also all kinds of experts who gave their opinions to journalist from different magazines. I'm thinking of articles published in "Saturday Night Magazine" and "Elmstreet". Like Van Gijseghem and Menzies, these experts talked of me as being psychopathic and suffering from narcissistic troubles, but they did it more cautiously. Dr Van Gijseghem words even appeared in "Saturday Night" in an article written by somebody who knew nothing about psychiatry or psychology.
There have been a lot of things said about me. But the opinion that policemen, prosecutors and the court stuck with is what is, and I am what I am.
At my ex-husband's trial, I don't know if the members of the jury believed, as the police and the Crown did, that I was a battered woman suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. After all, I wasn't a defendant there, but a witness. As such, my psychological condition was no relevant as an element of proof. In spite of that, at least two jurors sufficiently believed in this version to send letters of sympathy to my family. These letters are in my prison file.
Since the beginning of this affair, I submitted wholly to a long and strenuous therapy with the aim of retrieving the self-esteem I had totally lost so I could become again the person I was before meeting Paul, that is: an autonomous person capable of asserting her rights. At each of the steps of this long march, I constantly received the support of the prison system, and this is obvious to anybody who read my file. I have been taught not to be so dependant. I am just reporting here what I've been told so the Parole Board Commission can understand.
In her report, my parole officer is worried about the public reactions to my release. This is nonsense. The Commission doesn't have to hold that in account when they make a decision. Justice shouldn't concern itself with public reactions or the sensationalistic medias, as I've had the chance to realize during my trial.
At the time, there was many conflicts with the medias. In spite of the media publication ban decreed by the judge, many facts relating to my crimes have made the front page of American or English newspapers. Even the tabloid "Current Affair", which is watched in Canada, made an expose. Dr Jan Heney and Sgt Robert Gillies then wanted to reassure me, telling me that it would not have any impact on the outcome of my trial. Fortunately, they were right.
For many years, the "Toronto Sun" and other sensationalistic papers fight an active crusade so that my deal with the justice system would be revoked. Hundreds of thousands of persons for the south-west of Ontario have signed petitions in their campaign. Tim Danson, the victim's families lawyer, constantly denounces this deal in all forums. However, I must reiterate here that the deal was made with the agreement of these families. Otherwise, the deal would never have been made, and I would not have testified against Bernardo.
To answer the public pressure, judge Patrick Galligan was appointed to an inquiry about the circumstances leading to the deal. After thoroughly studying the question, his conclusion was that the agreement was legitimate. So the terms of my agreement still stand. After I pleaded guilty of two involuntary manslaughter charges, I am now in the tenth year of my prison term, for a maximum of twelve .
A question always surfaces concerning my trial: should they have accused me of sexual aggression? During the negotiations leading to my deal, this question has been hotly debated by my lawyer and the Justice ministry representatives. The Crown had then the opportunity to lay this particular charge on me. They didn't. So I was never found guilty of sexual aggression.
Is it the responsibility today of Correctional Services and of the Parole Board Commission to revoke the court's and Ontario's Justice Ministry decision in deciding suddenly that I am a sexual aggressor and that I have to be treated as such? Considering the new reports of Dr Menzies, of Saskatoon, and Dr Van Gijseghem, can they make of me an anti-social psychopath and reverse all the psychiatric opinions upon which my agreement is made? Were the psychiatrists that have examined me before the last two less qualified? Is it just and equitable to decide of my case now based upon the opinions of those two specialists only?
For this discussion's sake, let's say that I am really the person Dr Menzies and Van Gijseghem described, and that all the other specialists were sorely mistaken. That would mean that, for eight years, until the moment where they deprived me of my normal release in 2001, I was treated for something I wasn't really. First labeled by the correctional system as a battered woman, they would have squandered upon me a long therapy which would have transformed me into an anti-social psychopath.
So the correctional system would put all this energy to produce a monster? If it were so, it would be better not to continue with this treatment, but to free me as soon as possible to get better treatment somewhere else. But presently, I am left in a maximum security penitentiary although I have been classified medium security. So they really want to make a monster out of me!
According to Correctional Services logic, when I am released for good on July 6th 2005, they will free a female Hannibal Lector, an intelligent, cynical monster-killer ironically created by the prison system itself!
It would be more healthy and reasonable, for Correctional Services, to free me on parole and provide me with parole officers so that I can progressively re-integrate society until my sentence is expired.
In spite of all the publicity created by Danson and the "Toronto Sun"(who incidentally is having financial difficulties that would suggest that it should stop its sensationalism if it wants to get a new readers), I do not believe that my life is in danger. If I'm released on parole, I could refuse to speak with journalists or call the authorities for help if any of them were too enterprising.
But it is very obvious that Correctional Services does everything so that I am not freed on parole. The question is: "Why?".
As I have shown, their reasoning is very weak. It would be more honest for the authorities to say that they don't want to rock the boat. If I was freed now, public opinion would jump all over them, because such a decision would not be perceived as "politically correct". And that would cost them dearly. So, according to them, they have no choice.
But the real question the Parole Board Commission should ask themselves is: "Where is society real interest in this case, on Correctional Services and a few spiteful politicians side, or on the side of the normal rules of justice?
In any case, as far as the public is concerned, what do the average people know about psychiatrists theories? Do they make a distinction between a psychologically unstable person and an anti-social psychopath? Fortunately, this is only a concern between psychiatrists. On the other hand, people usually know about parole matters.
In reality, all the authorities are doing at this point is postpone an ineluctable thing: my release on July 6th 2005. When I get out, I will be facing a world that has changed a lot since I was first incarcerated. Wouldn't it be wiser to give me a hand right now rather than throwing me out in the street in two years?
Karla Homolka Teale