For a comprehensive history of the Williams’ prosecutions
see the Canadian Journalist for Free Expression (CJFE) Position Paper
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What were the charges laid against Stephen Williams?
In 1998, two charges of disobeying court orders contrary to Criminal Code Section 486(3) were laid with respect to the publication of Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka which was first published in the fall of 1996.
After the publication of Karla: A Pact with the Devil in French and English in November, 2002 and February, 2003 respectively, and the brief appearance of an experimental web site about Mr. Williams and his books on April 29, 2003, Mr. Williams was arrested again on Sunday, May 4, 2003 and charged with two counts, disobeying a court order. He was held in custody overnight and required to post $25,000 bail the following day.
Simultaneously then Attorney General Michael Bryant sued Mr. Williams in the Superior Court of Ontario as “an enemy of the state” asserting that he was in “wrongful possession” of sensitive court documents and the R. v. Bernardo crown brief.
The lawsuit sought unspecified damages and was brought ex parte, meaning that neither Mr. Williams or his lawyers were notified about the secret proceeding in which a judge granted an injunction allowing the authorities to demand that Mr. Williams surrender all of his research and archive to the Superior Court. This in spite of the fact that it is not illegal to possess crown brief materials; that Mr. Williams is not the only person or organization in possession of crown brief materials and the Attorney General and the police have known that Mr. Williams (and others) were in possession of this material since the fall of 1995.
Two months after Mr. Williams was arrested on May 4, 2003 and surrendered his archives and research according to the civil court injunction, ten (10) heavily armed Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers raided the farmhouse Mr. Williams shares with author Marsha Boulton.
At 6 a.m. on Friday, July 18, 2003 the police put Mr. Williams and Ms. Boulton out of their home for twenty-four hours and seized all of Ms. Boulton’s and Mr. Williams’ computers and files. [Ms. Boulton, a writer in her own right, with ten books in print, including the Leacock Award winning Letters from the Country, has nothing whatsoever to do with her partners work.
On October 18, 2003, Mr. Williams and his limited company were criminally charged with a further 95 counts of disobeying court orders and publication bans. The charges related to the allegation that a dozen names of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka’s approximately twenty-four sexual assault victims were published somewhere on the web site and/or in Mr. Williams’ books contrary to court orders prohibiting their identification.
In order to reach a staggering 97 charges the police laid many duplicate charges under two normally mutually exclusive sections of the Criminal Code:. Sections 486(3) and Section 127. Both have to do with breaches of court orders and publication bans but seldom if ever are laid concurrently. Criminal charges laid with respect to publication ban breaches and disobeying court orders are very rare and when they are laid the authorities either chose to lay a summary conviction or misdemeanor charge [S 486(3)] or the more serious criminal indictment under S 127.
Fifty-eight (58) of the S 486(3) and S 127 charges against Mr. Williams alleged that approximately a dozen names of the Bernardos’ victims appeared somewhere on Mr. Williams’ briefly accessible web site; 28 were laid in relation to Invisible Darkness (which had already been the subject of the previous unsuccessful prosecution between 1997 - 2000) and 8 of the 97 charges had to do with Karla: A Pact with the Devil. The authorities also laid a criminal charge against Mr. Williams’ company, 837064 Ontario Limited.
Remarkably, there were no charges laid with respect to the French-language edition of Karla.
Mr. Williams and Ms. Boulton were also both arrested (in Mr. Williams’ case for the third time; in Ms. Boulton’s for the first time in her life) in late October and criminally charged under the Firearms Act with with the improper storage of firearms.
See CJFE (Canadian Journalists for Free Expression) paper:
What was the outcome of each prosecution?
Who laid the charges?
Who were the police, prosecutors and judges involved?
What were the names of Mr. Williams’ defense lawyers?
In which court houses were the trials and proceedings held?
Who were the Attorney Generals and what were their political affiliations
What motivated the laying of charges against Stephen Williams?