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Ottawa Citizen



Stephen Williams, who wrote the bibles on the Homolka deal, has been 'screwed' by the province for his expert knowledge of the Homolka deal, writes Shannon Kari.

Body: Five months ago, Stephen Williams appeared to be public enemy No. 1 of the Ontario government, subjected to two unprecedented criminal prosecutions, a civil lawsuit and publicly savaged by the province's attorney general.

In weeks leading up to the release of notorious schoolgirl killer Karla Homolka, it is clear the award-winning writer has a very different role, as the leading authority on the controversial plea bargain that resulted in her serving only a 12-year prison sentence for her crimes.

In return, she testified against her husband, Paul Bernardo, who was convicted on two counts for first-degree murder.

Mr. Williams has been quoted by virtually every major media outlet in this country and the United States. He has received dozens of interview request from radio and television stations in Canada and the United States including Good Morning America and CNN.

Ms. Homolka is expected to be released soon after serving her entire sentence for manslaughter in the sex slayings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.

CAPTION: Stephen Williams, top, has been quoted by virtually every major media outlet in Canada and his two books, Invisible Darkness and Karla: A Pact with the Devil, are back on the bestseller lists. He is critical of Ottawa police chief Vince Bevan, show above in a file photo, who was head of the Green Ribbon Task Force, for sending senior officers to meet with Karla Homolka's lawyer about a plea bargain, just as Toronto police were about to arrest Paul Bernardo.

Mr. Williams two books, Invisible Darkness and Karla: A Pact with the Devil, are back on the bestseller lists.

As well, the writer has a very diverse group of supporters, including prominent members of the country's literary community and a high profile and outspoken former Toronto police officer.

"The biggest misconception about my books is that they are controversial," said Mr. Williams. "The word controversial suggests that there is something in the books that is questionable or debatable; that I may have misinterpreted the facts or even made things up. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

The former president of the Toronto police association describes Mr. Williams as "the encyclopedia of this topic." Craig Bromell is now the host of "The Beat" a talk-radio show in Toronto. Mr. Williams has been a regular guest in the past month as the program analyzed the deal with Homolka.

George Elliott Clarke, a Governor General Award winner for poetry and English professor at the University of Toronto, is effusive in his praise of Invisible Darkness. "This work is masterfully written, forensically researched, minutely detailed work of true crime. As time goes by, it should be viewed as a classic of the genre."

In both of his books, Mr. Williams is critical of the actions of police and the Ontario Attorney General and how they led to the plea bargain.

The finger is pointed directly at Ottawa police Chief Vince Bevan, then the head of the Green Ribbon Task Force, for sending senior officers to meet with Ms. Homolka's lawyer about a plea bargain just as Toronto police were about to arrest Mr. Bernardo for several counts of sexual assaults.

Mr. Williams was first charged with violating a court order in 1998, after Invisible Darkness was published. He was acquitted in 2000, but charged again in the spring of 2003 after he inadvertently posted some of the names of Mr. Bernardo's victims on a website for less than 24 hours.

In addition to the 97 criminal charges it laid against Mr. Williams for allegedly breaching publication bans, the Ontario government filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages and claiming that the writer was in wrongful possession of the Crown brief or disclosure.

A plea bargain negotiated by Mr. Williams' criminal lawyer, Edward Greenspan, resulted in the writer pleading guilty in January to one count of violating a court order.

At the same time Mr. Williams was in a suburban court to enter his guilty plea, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant held a brief media scrum at the provincial legislature to denounce the writer.

Mr. Bryant described Mr. Williams as a "serial trafficker in human misery."

The Attorney General did not disclose to the media that as he was making these comments, lawyers in his ministry were negotiating a resolution to the civil law suit that would not require Mr. Williams to admit to any wrongdoing.

Mr. Bryant's comments were "unthinking" and "clearly made for political gain" observed Mr. Clarke.

"Stephen got screwed. He got too close to the truth and he was being used as an example," said Mr. Bromell. "I have talked to a lot of people about Stephen and I have not found anyone who challenged the content of his books."

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