Saturday, October 17, 1998

Harold Levy

p. A3.

Madame slapped with fine of $3,000

Bedford 'relieved' to avoid jail, but wants ruling on sadomasochism

The dominatrix who calls herself Madame de Sade will not be jailed for keeping a common bawdy house in her Thornhill bungalow.

Instead, after a lengthy prosecution costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, Terri-Jean Bedford must pay a $3,000 fine.

"It's a relief knowing that I'm not going to jail," Bedford said after sentencing. "But . . . nothing has been solved at all," she added, referring to the fact that the judge did not rule whether commercial sadomasochism is legal.

The judge said jailing Bedford could just help increase her notoriety

Bedford was charged Sept. 15, 1994, after 15 York Region police officers raided her Thornhill bungalow and carted away truckloads of the tools of her trade, including a coffin, whips and restraints.

Crown Attorney Peter Westgate asked Judge Roy Bogusky, of Ontario Court, provincial division, to jail Bedford nine months to express society's abhorrence of her crimes.

But Bogusky ruled yesterday that jailing Bedford would only inflict pain on taxpayers. "They have funded these proceedings while the accused and her associates have gained publicity and notoriety," he said.

"Any form of custodial sentence would be an additional expense to the public coffers and could provide fertile ground for the notoriety to persist. "You have broken the law for money, so your punishment will be in kind," he told her.

Referring to a comment he made at the end of the trial, suggesting that he would take into account the conduct of York Region police during their 15-officer raid, Bogusky said, "This court still holds to that thought."

Westgate did not call any police evidence to counter Bedford's claim that she was punched by an officer during the raid, thrown on to the couch, and ordered to call him "master." Bogusky also found at the trial that unjustified strip searches of anal areas had been conducted on female occupants of the house, and that rowdy officers, whom he called "young bucks," had donned wigs and conducted mock sword fights with whips.

Bogusky was presented with two very different pictures of Bedford and her crimes at the sentencing hearing.

Westgate depicted her as a parasite involved in "evil" who must be severely punished to express "the abhorrence of society to this kind of activity." He stressed her criminal record, which includes 10 prostitution-related offences.

But defence lawyer Alan Young said she became a dominatrix to escape the degrading life of a prostitute, and asked Bogusky to reject "the crown's suggestion that our whole social order will collapse if Miss Bedford does not go to jail."

Young said that, far from being sexual, genital touching that occurred at the house as part of fantasies was essentially 'asexual, mysterious, dark and bizarre."

Young said Bedford would appeal the conviction to obtain a ruling on sadomasochistic activities from the province's highest court so people can learn whether their activities are illegal.

Meanwhile, Bedford says she plans to return to business as soon as she can -- but in Toronto.

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Created: October 17, 1998
Last modified: October 17, 1998

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