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In his first interview since being imprisoned for life in 1995, serial killer Paul Bernardo told police that sexual "performance anxiety" was the driving force that led him to leave a trail of dead girls and sexual violence across Southern Ontario.

"That's what I had back then, so I used sex as a vice," Mr. Bernardo said in the April 16, 2006, police interview. "Now, I work out. I wake up every day knowing I'm not psychopathic. I care about people. I cried during 9/11. I cried during Columbine."

In an interview transcript filed in the Ontario Court of Appeal, Mr. Bernardo told two Toronto police investigators that he had spent endless hours trying to come to grips with deep-seated insecurities - involving his "baby chest," his having been a nerdy schoolboy, and his penchant for forcing rape victims to disparage their boyfriends' sexual prowess.

"It's all power and control, because you're so insecure in yourself," he said. "I was the type of guy who would freeze at baseball plays. I don't want to swing because I know I'm gonna miss. I remember the first time I went waiting at Mother's Pizza, I was so scared to walk up to the table."

A transcript of the two-hour interview was filed in connection with an application by London, Ont., man Anthony Hanemaayer, who is asking to be exonerated in a sex attack that Mr. Bernardo recently confessed to having perpetrated.

Mr. Bernardo, known as the Scarborough rapist, was convicted of killing schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, and also of almost 20 sexual assaults.

The interview took place at Kingston Penitentiary, where he is in a maximum-security, solitary-confinement unit and prohibited from having contact with the news media.

"I'm the worst piece of crap on the planet, yet I get up every day," Mr. Bernardo told Detective Brad Hoover and Detective-Constable Darlene Coulis. "I work out. I don't sit there crying in my cell. And you know, I don't feel threatened because someone called me an idiot, you know, where I have to attack. ... Everyone treats me that way. I have no friends. I have nobody. But I handle it."

Clearly intent on convincing the officers that he was rehabilitated, Mr. Bernardo said that he had not used drugs or alcohol in prison. Nor, he said, had he attempted to take up offers of sexual services he had had from women since arriving in prison.

"I get letters," he said. "I get lots of letters. No, thanks. It's egocentric for someone to come in. I'm not a sex predator ... I don't engage in deviancy at all. I've overcome all this stuff. I don't have a girlfriend. I don't have relations; don't want one."

Correctional Services Canada officials said yesterday that privacy rules prevent them from revealing whether Mr. Bernardo can have conjugal visits. However, he implied to the investigators that the choice was his. At one point, he said that "bringing a woman to orgasm is what gives me pleasure - which is the case now.

"Am I going to bring somebody here, you know, to this horrible situation? Bring her in as Paul Bernardo's girlfriend and subject her to that just so I can have my sex or relationship? I'm not gonna to do it - not until I'm out of prison."

Mr. Bernardo also denied harbouring antipathy toward women: "I loved women and obviously loved sex because of the vice at the time. But there was never any hatred against women. They were my best friends, uh, mostly."

Speaking in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness manner, he insisted he would be a solid prospect for parole when he becomes eligible in 2010 for a 15-year review under the Criminal Code's so-called faint-hope clause.

He said his newfound insight into his character flaws could have saved him from being plunged into "a horrible, horrible existence.

"Every day, it's 'Bernardo - schoolgirl killer,' " he said. "It's horrible to be pounded with that all the time. I got it yesterday, today, all the time. And it's people that I could bully because I'm bigger physically and a better fighter. But I don't engage in that. I walk away, disgraced and humiliated, but I can handle it.

"I'm losing the battles to win the war," he told the police officers. "The war is not a war against you guys and a war against the Attorney-General, so that I can go and rape again. The war is the war of life - my mistakes in life."

Mr. Bernardo also appeared to acknowledge for the first time since his murder trial that he was present when Kristen and Leslie were killed, although he continued to assert that his wife at the time, Karla Homolka, actually strangled them.

At another point in the interview, he insisted that police and psychiatrists were wrong to believe that his crimes had progressed steadily from minor, less violent attacks to sadistic murders.

A gruesome attack was sometimes followed by a less violent one, he said. "If you look back at some of the first ones - in '88, the girl got her arm broken. A lot afterwards didn't. ... You have ups and down - depending on the more they fought, the more I fought."

He also disputed police assertions that he had hung on to his rape victims' personal items and identification cards as trophies.

Mr. Bernardo said he "took stuff from the victims as kind of a deterrence thing. Okay, like, 'I know where you live, so don't say anything.'

"It does a disservice, because if you really want to profile me correctly, it's not good to say that. ... It misrepresents who I was, and what I done those things for."