Saturday, October 10, 1998

Southam Newspapers

Dominatrix vows to continue 'practice' despite conviction

The Ontario woman is awaiting sentence after she was found guilty of running a common bawdy house.

NEWMARKET, Ont. -- Dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford is vowing to continue her "practice" despite a conviction Friday on charges of running a common bawdy house.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail. Bedford's lawyer, Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young said the Crown has indicated it will seek a sentence of nine months.

Judge Roy Bogusky rejected Bedford's argument that the S&M activities at her suburban bungalow just north of Toronto were not sexual in nature. He told the court the erotica sessions with her clients were the "backbone of the business" for Bedford. Bogusky added "common sense allows for no other conclusion when a naked man with a rope around his penis is being attended to by a female in lingerie."

But Bedford's lawyer says there is nothing in the ruling to prohibit "role playing, bondage or humiliation" in Canada.

Bedford was arrested in 1994 after a police raid at the bungalow, which contained a basement dungeon, theme rooms, and a variety of S&M paraphernalia, including whips and paddles.

In announcing his decision, Bogusky stopped just short of initially of formally announcing the guilty verdict, and allowed Young to make arguments that the charges should be quashed because of an "abuse of process" by police.

For nearly an hour Young severely criticized the actions of York severely criticized the actions of York regional police during the raid. He said the 15 officers involved acted like "a demolition team" and the policing smacked of a "totalitarian regime." Young said the size of the raid was wildly out of proportion to the resistance the officers could expect to encounter.

"When you enter into a dungeon run by a bunch of women, you show a bit of restraint." said Young.

Young added that Bedford was punched and then sat on by officers, strip-searched uncessarily, and that four years later none of her possessions have been returned, not even a Webster's dictionary seized by police. Young said police "should have looked up the meaning of the word relevance in that dictionary."

The bizarre and occasionally comical nature of the case continued when Crown counsel Peter Westgate tried to rebut Young's arguments. Westgate said the strip search was for "officer safety, and to look for evidence." He added that the seizure of the dictionary was reasonable because it found in a theme area in the house known as "the schoolroom."

"If you are going to have a schoolroom, you have to have a dictionary," said Westgate.

Bogusky agreed that police may have been involved in "overkill" in the size of the raid but suggested they should be given the benefit of the doubt in carrying out their job. "They may have been a bit of a bad taste, but nothing I can hang a remedy to."

In turning down Young's arguments that the charges should be quashed because of the way police acted, Bogusky said, "staying of prosecution for abuse of process should be exercised only in the clearest cases."

Calling S&M role playing, "safe, sane and healthy," Bedford said she intends to go back into business as a dominatrix, but would not give a location. A police spokesman said Bedford will be charged again if she resumes operations in that area.

Young said he will appeal the verdict.

Bedford's sentencing hearing will take place in Newmarket Oct. 16.

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Created: October 12, 1998
Last modified: October 12, 1998

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