Toronto Sun

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Gender-bender perv jailed

By Ian Robertson, Toronto Sun

OSHAWA -- An Etobicoke woman who snubbed court orders to stop having sex with young girls while disguised as a man was imprisoned yesterday for 16 months.

Kelly Ann Laird, 22, sat stone-faced in court yesterday before becoming the first woman in Canada to be jailed for having gender-bending sex with girls. Laird spent 10 months in custody after police charged her Jan. 21 with using a fake penis to have sex with a 12-year-old Ajax girl.

"She is one of the scariest of all offenders involved with young people I've ever seen," Det. James Stewart-Haass later told The Sun. "In the 51/2 years I've been on the sexual-assault squad, I've never heard of anything like this," he said. "If she doesn't get the help she needs during her three-year probation time, the monster will be out there again."

With hair parted down the middle and along the sides of her boyish face, the reclusive cleaner, who once bore a chilling resemblance to schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo, smiled crookedly yesterday as she was led into a King St.W. building by police.

Laird's face was stern when Justice Hugh Campbell passed sentence and ordered psychiatric care for her sex-identity disorders.

Lawyer Janice Johnson said Laird realizes "she has to respect the law, until she is old enough to understand it."

But the judge dismissed as self-serving two apologetic pre-sentencing letters Laird wrote him, saying she is only remorseful because she was caught and will be punished for what she did to young and vulnerable girls.

Stewart-Haass and prosecutor Bryan Davies lauded Campbell for rejecting Johnson's bid to have Laird found not guilty of sexual interference with the 12-year-old by reason of mental instability.

They said Laird knew what she was doing while using phone chat lines and the Internet to stalk girls who thought she was a boy named Kelly Andrew Slator, a.k.a. "Smurf."

Laird set "a precedent ... this case is unique" in Canada's record of sex predators, said Davies, adding that her case should warn parents to monitor their kids to prevent them being lured by Internet and phone predators.

He told the judge that Laird "is a highly manipulative individual," who is "not without intelligence." She was so convincing that one mom drove her daughter to a motel to have sex with her "male lover," a police source said.

Many of Laird's victims were devastated to learn she was a woman, but one 15-year-old wanted to continue dating the fake man. In one of many cases dropped after victims refused to testify, a 14-year-old said Laird threatened to shoot her after the teen refused to let Laird's male friend get her pregnant so "they could be a family," a police source said.

When victims rebuffed her or were ordered by their parents to break off relationships, Laird threatened to kill their families, overloaded answering services with obscene calls and sent obscene material through the mail.

Laird also taped trysts with young girls, said a cop who investigated a charge against her and seized stacks of videos from the flat she shared with her mom.

One "chilling" tape contained TV news recordings showing Paul Bernardo before he was convicted of the 1995 sex-torture slayings of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.

Officials say there is no evidence of Laird ever forcing young victims to have sex or hurting them. Her tapes were destroyed. Until now, sources said she escaped criminal sex convictions due to court leniency, plea bargains and cases made shaky due to the reluctance or instability of victims.

Copyright © 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.