Tuesday, July 28, 1998

Harold Levy

p. B3.

Sex isn't S&M goal, prof says

A York University professor defended sadomasochism as "therapeutic" yesterday at the trial of dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford.

Bedford, who goes by the name "Madame de Sade," was arrested Sep. 15, 1994, after 15 police officers raided her "Chamber of Erotica" in Thornhill. She is charged with keeping a common bawdy house.

Professor Shannon Bell told Judge Roy Bogusky that she was qualified to testify as an expert for the defence because of her academic research and her experience as a dominatrix.

Elaborating on her personal involvement with sadomasochism, Bell described a "fetish party" where she acted as a "performance artist" with a person who had contracted to be her slave for the evening.

"He had to carry me to the toilet and ride me around on horseback," she told the court.

'Moral ethics'

"Also I have a strong set of sexual and moral ethics and wouldn't do anything to someone that I haven't done myself," she said. "So I'd have my slave whip me."

Bell told prosecutor Peter Westgate it's possible to go out three times a week to establishments that offer "fetish" or "dungeon" nights in Toronto.

Asked by Westgate why people would pay to be whipped, beaten and otherwise humiliated, she replied: "It could be that they are searching for their souls, it could be that they like the pain. Some people are doing it for fun."

But Bell insisted that sexual gratification is not the goal and that she has never seen people having sex in the sadomasochism scene.

"I have seen erections," she told Bogusky. "But it;s important to realize that Socrates died with an erection... so I don't think it has much to do with sex."

The witness refused to give an inch to Westgate during his blistering cross-examination. In the most heated exchange, Bell was asked by Westgate how she knows that "men get hard when they are afraid." She said: "I've been around." "Besides being around?" "I've been reading classical philosophy," she replied.

Apparently riled because Westgate seemed to be ignoring her, she bellowed, "Are you listening to me?" "Oh yes," he replied calmly.

After court, Bell insisted that she had held her own. "I didn't actually feel that he was being that aggressive," she told reporters. "I'm used to way more aggression than that."

Westgate could have the last laugh if Bogusky rejects the defence application to have her qualified as an expert witness.

'Large interest'

Early in the day, Dr. Roy Baumeister, who the defence is trying to qualify as an expert in the psychology of sadomasochism, testified that those who are drawn to it are often successful older white males.

"We see a large interest in their wanting to be spanked and dominated," said the psychologist from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

"It is a separation from real life for them." The trial resumes Friday at 10 a.m. at the Newmarket courthouse, when Bedford is expected to take the witness box in her defence.

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Created: August 20, 1998
Last modified: August 20, 1998

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