Just weeks before he’ll be freed from prison, a prolific sex predator boldly told authorities that he didn’t know his actions were wrong when he preyed on hundreds of young girls over the Internet to feed his deviant sexual desires. Mark Bedford, 29, (inset) made the startling admission at a parole hearing 20 days ago, a document obtained by Cancrime shows (read it after the jump). Bedford will be released from a penitentiary in Ontario late in August after serving his second federal prison sentence.
Bedford’s seemingly absurd statement is consistent with his ongoing attempts to rationalize his crimes and his desire to shake the labels ‘pedophile’ and ‘sex predator.’ In one of his crimes, he coerced a 12-year-old girl into simulating sex with the family dog in front of her webcam. In some cases, he coerced young girls to insert items, including pencils and combs, into their vaginas. When his victims wouldn’t comply, Bedford would threaten to kill them or other family members – and yet, he claims, he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He once told a probation officer that his victims were liars. The parole board members didn’t swallow Bedford’s claim.
“The Board challenged you on this statement and then you changed it to say you blocked the knowledge that this was wrong,” according to a written record of the July 3 hearing. “Credibility and transparency became an issue for the Board.”
A recent report concluded Bedford is a “high risk for sexual recidivism” yet he told the parole board he believes he’s a low risk to commit new sex crimes.
“This statement indicates that you have limited insight and are over confident in your ability to control your deviant sexual interests,” the parole document states.
Since he was first convicted in 2008, Bedford has resisted treatment, tried to trick experts who sought to assess his deviance, denied responsibility for his crimes and blamed his victims. Bedford was convicted of 10 crimes, including commit/incite bestiality, luring a child under age 14 by computer, several child pornography offences, two charges of extortion and criminal harassment. Authorities believe he may have preyed on hundreds of young girls in five countries though his parole and prison files document only 63 victims. In Canada, he had victims in Alberta and Ontario. Bedford is part of a wave of so-called sextortionists who trick young victims online. It is a problem that has drawn the attention of law enforcement worldwide. In November 2014, a Florida man was sentenced to 104 years in prison for producing child pornography. He was believed to have extorted 350 victims over four years in three countries, including Canada.
Bedford’s first conviction earned him a three-year prison sentence. He was released March 2011 but was back behind bars in August 2012, charged with sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl and breaching rules imposed in a special judicial order. He pleaded guilty to the breaches in a plea bargain that saw the sex assault charges dropped.
An August 2014 parole board report noted: “Apparently this was to avoid the possibility of convictions for the sexual assault and sexual interference offences which could lead to an application for a dangerous offender designation.” If Bedford were declared a dangerous offender, he could be kept in prison indefinitely.
The July 3 parole hearing was required, under law, to review a previous decision to keep Bedford locked up until he had served every day of his 26-month sentence (Bedford lost an appeal of that decision, in which he argued his detention was “totally unreasonable” because he had no plans to reoffend). The parole board members ruled July 3 that the detention order would remain in place. It will keep Bedford in prison until his sentence expires August 22. Bedford, who turns 30 on July 25, told the board at a previous hearing that he hopes to live with his parents again after his release.
The written record of Bedford’s most recent July 3, 2015 parole hearing: