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Bernardo denied parole

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BATH, Ont.—Serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo pleaded unsuccessfully for a second chance yesterday, arguing low self-esteem drove him to commit the sexually-twisted crimes he now rues and that he no longer poses any threat to the public.

Bernardo made his pitch for parole before a two-member panel, which also heard impassioned pleas from the parents of two of his murder victims that he be kept behind bars.

“I'm a very flawed person. I know I'm not perfect,” Bernardo told the Parole Board of Canada panel.

“What I did was so dreadful. I hurt a lot of people," he added. "I cry all the time.”

At the same time, the now 54-year-old Bernardo was adamant he never has been violent since his arrest, and would never re-offend if released.

“I'm so nice to everybody," he remarked. "Everybody is scared but there is no reason to be scared.”

The panel did not buy his arguments. They took about 30 minutes to turn Bernardo down for both day and full parole.

Their written reasons are expected in a few weeks.

Dubbed the “Scarborough Rapist,” Bernardo could make another bid for release in two years.

He already has spent 25 years of his life sentence in prison—most in solitary.

Bernardo was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated sexual assault among other offences.

His crimes over several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of which he videotaped, had sparked widespread terror and revulsion.

Among his brutal acts, Bernardo and his then-wife Karla Homolka kidnapped, tortured, and killed Leslie Mahaffy, 14, of Burlington, Ont., in June, 1991 at their home in Port Dalhousie, Ont. before dismembering her body, encasing her remains in cement, and dumping them in a nearby lake.

Mahaffy's mother, Debbie, described the crushing pain the parole hearing had rekindled, saying the “unspeakable and brutally sadistic acts” Bernardo committed defied description.

“This is an emotional hell for us,” Mahaffy told the hearing at the Millhaven penitentiary, choking back tears.

Bernardo also tortured and killed Kristen French, 15, of St. Catharines, Ont., in April, 1992 after keeping her captive for three days.

Kristen's mother, Donna French, argued Bernardo should never see freedom again.

“How does one describe such immeasurable pain so as to give even the slightest understanding of the overwhelming sadness, the emptiness, and pain we feel even after 26 years of dealing with our loss?” French said.

French noted the law was changed after Bernardo's incarceration to allow for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

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