07/09/2012 12:09 EDT | Updated 09/08/2012 05:12 EDT

We Let Karla Homolka Out, Now Let's Leave Her Alone


It's doubtful that anyone who knows the case -- and even anyone who doesn't -- is unaware that Karla Homolka got away with murder when she was sentenced to only 12 years in the sexual killings of three teenagers, one of whom was her sister.

Basically, she got such a light sentence because the Crown didn't think it had enough evidence to prosecute her rapist husband, Paul Bernardo, and negotiated a deal for her testimony against him. Then graphic videotapes were discovered of the murders -- so Karla's testimony was mere icing on the prosecution's cake.

But as with the RCMP's deal with the late Clifford Olson to pay $10,000 for each of the 11 murder sites he led them to, the deal with Karla could not be revoked. Nor should it have been. A deal is a deal, especially if made by the police and the Crown. Inefficiency on the part of the police in not finding the Bernardo videotapes was (and is) an embarrassment, but the deal can't be undone.

As for Karla, she served her time and fled to the Caribbean, determined to avoid the spotlight -- until discovered by former TV reporter Paula Todd: married with three children living in Guadeloupe. Todd wrote a small ebook about her enterprise, and Maclean's magazine ran with the story in their best National Enquirer style.

Whatever one thinks should have happened to Karla Homolka, she is a free woman now. The idea that she is a danger to anyone -- kids she is alleged to have been teaching in Guadeloupe, or her own children -- seems preposterous. As reflected in Maclean's, reporter Todd's attempt to glamorize herself verges on the ludicrous. Although Homolka talked for an hour with her (but "no way in hell" would she allow photos), Todd writes: "I know that every moment I'm with Homolka could be my last."

Give us a break, honey! Was Karla likely to strangle her?

Again, Todd relfects: "You'd be surprised how much you can think about when you're wolf-alert to danger." Really? What danger? There's no Bernardo around to motivate Karla. One suspects Paula Todd is exploiting her big chance, even indulging in the tired cliche that tracking Karla Homolka down was in the "public interest."

In her account, Todd acknowledges that Karla's children seem happy and well cared for. When Homolka questions that view based on just meeting her, Todd responds by saying she's been in places where children are neglected, and Karla's daughter is "happy, fun, lovely and she's used to attention."

Homolka agrees: "She's very used to attention." Even so, Todd apparently feels her life was in danger, as if Homolka is Lizzie Borden, ever-ready to wield an axe. Then, of course, Maclean's depiction of former Life photographer Zoran Milich, lurking four days in the jungle behind Karla's house to get a grab-shot of her holding her baby, makes it sound like Mission: Impossible, besieged as he was by bugs and annoyed goats. To his credit, Milich seems to have absorbed the assignment with equanimity, and then went on to his next job.

It's difficult to have sympathy for Karla Homolka, even as she's persecuted by "public interest" reporters. Better to question the judicial system that freed her. As long as she stays out of trouble, why not leave her alone?