'It's wrong': Amazon under fire for e-book attributed to Paul Bernardo
Published Friday, November 13, 2015 11:35AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 13, 2015 3:38PM EST
Amazon is under fire after reports that the online retail giant is selling an e-book written by convicted killer Paul Bernardo.
The e-book is a fictional spy thriller entitled “A Mad World Order.”
Amazon has not confirmed whether the e-book, which it has been selling online since late June, was written by the convict.
Bernardo is currently serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French.
He has also been deemed a dangerous offender for admitting to raping 14 other women, and for other charges related to his murder victims.
Tim Danson, the lawyer for the Mahaffy and French families, says that he plans to read the book on behalf of his clients, to determine whether or not it deals with the offences for which Bernardo has been convicted and given dangerous offender status. If so, Bernardo would be in breach of the law, Danson said.
“From the information that I have, that doesn’t appear to be the case,” Danson said on CTV News Channel on Friday. “However, in my view, he can’t profit directly or indirectly, so in reading the book, I’ll be very mindful as to whether he’s disguising his intentions through a fictional platform."
Danson added that, if the book has “nothing to do” with the offences, Bernardo is entitled to publish it.
“There’s no legal prohibition, he has a constitutional right to free speech,” Danson said.
Ontario law prevents a person from profiting from their own crimes, but Toronto lawyer Ari Goldkind said, because the book is a work of fiction, it’s perfectly legal.
“You can write about your own crimes -- Bernardo could have written a movie script,” Goldkind told CTV Toronto. “But he could not have gotten a dollar from doing that.
“But when he’s writing another story, this Mad World, or … a rap song, or anything else, he can make as much money as people are willing to give him, as bizarre as that sounds.”
Correctional Service of Canada, meanwhile, said the e-book was fictional and did not relate to Bernardo's "specific" crimes.Further, a CSC spokesperson told the Canadian Press that while federal inmates have access to computers, they don't have access to the Internet or email, so it's unclear how Bernardo would have been able to publish the book.
Upcoming parole hearing
Danson said that the book could be “highly relevant” to Bernardo’s parole hearing, scheduled for next April.
“We may see even in a fictional format, that when Paul Bernardo uses his imagination, it takes him to some real serious violence, which confirms what we’ve been saying for decades, that there’s no cure for Paul Bernardo,” Danson said.
“Therefore it would be highly relevant to the parole board to know 22, 23 years later, his fictional accounts are still rooted in psychopathy and in violence and that would be just another reason to keep Paul Bernardo in jail.”
Irrespective of the book, Danson believes Bernardo has little to no chance of being granted parole next year.
Danson also questioned Amazon for publishing the book, saying retailers have “moral and ethical responsibilities” to their consumers.
“I think there should be, and apparently there is, public outcry at the moment to take (the book) off their system,” Danson said.
“I just think it’s wrong. “
Many say they are offended by the idea that Bernardo could profit from the book, which is selling for just under $8 and is available in electronic format only.
In online reviews, people expressed disgust and anger that Amazon is selling it, saying a convicted killer should not be given a platform with which to “peddle” his book.