My Prior Legal Battles

Prior Legal Battles

I have been in and out of the criminal justice system most of my life Here is a blurb, which I have recently revised, of my legal encounters before 2007.AUGUST 1986 – I was raided in Windsor, Ontario and charged with keeping a common bawdy house and so forth. I subsequently went to jail for close to a year.

MAY 1993 – I opened the “Bondage Bungalow” (so called by the media) in Thornhill, Ontario as Madame deSade.

SEPTEMBER 1994 – York Regional Police stage a 15 officer raid of the bungalow. Two moving vans of furniture, equipment and possessions seized. Five of us charged. Police publicized the raid in a press conference that received wide attention. The Crown asked that I be held without bail, but I made bail.

OCTOBER 1995 – First trial. Judge rules authorities did not specify in their charges what the crime was (i.e. judge agreed that Constitution protects citizens against vague charges). Charges were thrown out for all 5 defendants. Crown announces intention to appeal. My possessions remained seized. Crown refused to drop charges on any of the defendants or return any possessions.

AUGUST 1996 – Crown wins appeal before Ontario Court of Appeal. Matter ordered back to trial. All 5 defendants in turn appeal to Supreme Court of Canada. All maintained their innocence fully.

JUNE 1997 – Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear the case due to reasons of jurisdiction. Trial to proceed.

APRIL 1998 – Crown Attorney James McKeachie replaced by Peter Westgate. No reason given for the replacement.

Defendants now have defense team consisting of Murray Klippenstein, George Callahan and Brian Blumenthal. Crown drops the charges against all defendants, after almost 4 years, except Bedford. Blumenthal, who had represented only one of the other defendants, retires from defense team. Crown argues for disqualification of Klippenstein and Callahan from continuing to represent Bedford because they had represented 3 of the 4 former defendants. Klippenstein and Callahan argue against existence of conflict saying all those previously charged agree on facts and innocence. Judge ruled that Klippenstein and Callahan could no longer represent Bedford due to specific conflict regulations. The trial was postponed for 3 months to allow me to obtain new counsel.

MAY 1998 – Alan Young, professor of criminal law at Osgoode Hall Law School heads new defense team along with Leah Daniels, professor of administrative law at Seneca College.

AUGUST to OCTOBER 1998 – A 9 day trial spread over several weeks with in depth and often humorous media coverage. Transcripts total over 1,500 pages in 8 volumes. Numerous expert witness called by defense. At conclusion judge convicts me and fines me $3,000. Judge was not forthcoming about whether bondage or any of the other activities in the Bungalow were in and of themselves illegal. In my words, on the day of the verdict: “The Judge still hasn’t said what I can and can’t do”.

JANUARY 1998 – I reopen in downtown Toronto in a 6 room establishment with a fully equipped dungeon and facilities for cross-dressers.

MARCH 2000 – I appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Represented by Professor Young and high profile Toronto lawyer Paul Burstein. The appeal has many grounds including arguments of improper rulings on evidence, search and seizure and the basis for ruling an establishment as being a bawdy-house. In short, that I did not get a fair trial. The appeal was denied in what has widely been regarded as one of the most controversial and poorly written decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

AUGUST 2000 – I sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Application for leave prepared by lawyers David Corbett, Lucy McSweeney and Timothy Banks. The court declined to hear the appeal. I paid the fine. Mr. Corbett is an expert in constitutional law. He is now a judge. Two of the important reasons for seeking to appeal concern the Ontario Court’s extended definition of prostitution and the need to prevent abuse of authority during investigations and in collecting evidence.

OCTOBER 2000 – Accompanied by the media, I retrieved over 700 items seized by the police in 1994 – including the famous baby chandelier and common dictionary.

JUNE 2001 – I expanded my establishment to 11 rooms. It now included a “Bondage Hotel” catering to tourists.

JUNE 2002 – I closed my establishment as the building required major repairs.

2003 to 2006 – I met with activists, but was mainly focussed on my health problems and looking after my grandson while my daughter worked. Work on the constitutional challenge, Bedford Versus Canada began in 2006 and it was formally filed in 2007.

In the years following I homebound most of the time. I wrote, painted and made some appearances.

These legal battle could not have been fought without the support: financial and otherwise, of so many.

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