Karla Homolka is once again at the centre of a controversy in Quebec over allegations that she participated in a trip for kindergarten students at Greaves Adventist Academy to the Montreal Science Centre in March, upsetting some parents of other students attending the institution, sources have told CityNews.
Homolka’s children reportedly attend classes at Greaves, a private school that falls under the Quebec Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists Church, a Christian sect. The trip is said to have occurred on March 22, and one parent told CityNews that Homolka “occasionally volunteers” at the school.
Homolka served 12 years in prison following a plea deal after being convicted of the rape and murder of two school girls along with then-husband Paul Bernardo. The couple’s victims also included one of Homolka’s sisters. She was released in 2005, and subsequently married Thierry Bordelais, the brother of her former lawyer.
It’s standard practice to conduct background checks on employees and volunteers who have frequent contact with students in most provinces. But Homolka “is not a regular volunteer. Rarely would she have cause to go into the school, and when she is, she is never alone,” Stan Jensen, communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, told a CityNews editor. He said the school board was “fully aware” of who Homolka is.
“The Quebec Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the administration of Greaves Adventist Academy are committed to providing quality education and enriching learning experiences to its students,” the Church said in a statement to CityNews. “While we work through the concerns stated by parents and other stakeholders, we welcome those associated with the school to contact the Quebec Conference office of Education.”
On her release from prison, a judge had applied 14 conditions on Homolka, under Section 810 of the Criminal Code. They included regularly reporting to the police, and having to “refrain from seeking, accepting or keeping any paid or unpaid job or volunteer work putting her in a position of authority over minors under age 16,” according to the CanWest News Service, reporting at the time. But the restrictions were quashed by a Quebec justice shortly after.
Brian Saint-Louis, a spokesman for Quebec’s Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport, says school boards are responsible for trips and activities, including whether background checks are conducted on volunteers or participants. “We have some guidelines—when there’s sports activities and so on, we recommend people to check everything is okay, but it’s a school board responsibility.”
“It is protocol for all of our schools across Canada, and most of the world, to do background checks, not only on teachers, but volunteers as well as clergy,” Jensen says.
Last year, CityNews reported that Homolka was living in Châteauguay, a town in the Greater Montreal area, using the name Léanne Teale. Parents at the elementary school attended by her children expressed concern at her presence and anger that the school board had not notified them of it. The principal of Centennial Park Elementary School sent a letter to parents reassuring them that their children were safe, and noting that adult volunteers are subject to criminal background checks. Greaves, the new school, is located in Montreal proper.
Dominic Fazioli of Breakfast Television Montreal asked Homolka last week outside Greaves whether she volunteered or worked at the school. She did not answer the question.