The date that changed Cathy Kaip’s life was one of those rambling metaphysical coffee-house conversations that are part of any well-furnished youth. The year was 1974. Kaip, an 18-year-old nursing student, had hit it off with Gerald Klein, then a 27-year-old musician, at a wedding. When he heard that his daughter was going out to see an older man, one trying to extricate himself from an unhappy marriage, Kaip’s Roman Catholic father responded with gentle firmness.
“He said to me, ‘You realize he’s a married man, he has a child,’ ” she recalls. “ ‘This will be the first and last time you go out with him.’ So that’s what I told Gerry: this is the first and last date. I did say I thought it was unfair that Dad should be telling me what to do, but I told him, ‘He’s my dad and I respect his wishes.’ ”
Those orders, however, weren’t in any particular conflict with her own feelings. “Gerry wasn’t really date material,” says Kaip. “He was a friend I was trying to help through a difficult time.” The pair spent their date talking about the moral and scriptural aspects of marriage, Klein’s break from the Catholic Church, and his experiments with other religious movements of the turbulent ’70s. “He was the sort who could find anything he wanted to find in the Bible,” she remembers.
Unbeknownst to Kaip, what appeared to be one conversation was actually two. For her, it was nothing but a bull session with an amusing older gentleman. But inside Klein’s head, some regrettable, wrong synapse had begun to fire. It wouldn’t stop for the next 36 years.
On Aug. 9, 2010, Saskatchewan provincial court Judge Dennis Fenwick renewed a peace bond that had been imposed on Gerry Klein after his release from prison in December 2006. Klein had served a three-year sentence for criminally harassing Kaip, who is now, in her own words, a “pudgy, 54-year-old grandmother.”
The original bond barred Klein from an eight-block area surrounding Kaip’s Regina home, and ordered him to refrain from contacting her family. Judge Fenwick made headlines by peremptorily extending its scope to the entire city. In effect, Klein, though not charged with any new crime, has been banished from his hometown for a year.
Cathy Kaip’s 1974 coffee date with Klein wasn’t the end of their relationship. “Before we could even meet again, he called me, crying, saying ‘Cathy, I need to talk to you right now,’ ” she says. “He was in trouble with his church because his pastor had told him that he had to stay with his wife.” Within weeks, Cathy had found an actual boyfriend, but she stayed in touch with her unhappy and confused friend, corresponding with him when he brieﬂy moved to British Columbia in 1976.
It was when she got engaged to Richard Kaip in July 1976 that things changed. The phone calls became more frequent and troubling. Klein told Cathy that the devil was keeping them apart; he blamed her father for thwarting their romance. He warned her priest—and, a week before the wedding, her fiancé—that the imminent marriage had been coerced by her dad, and was thus invalid.
The wedding went ahead and the lovebirds moved to New Brunswick. Soon they got the first letter from what would be an infinite sequence of lawyers retained by Gerald James Klein. It warned that Klein was contemplating a lawsuit for breach of promise of marriage. Klein backed down but continued to pen increasingly ominous missives to Cathy Kaip.