Inquiry hears Manitoba judge may have known sooner about naked photos online
Alexander Chapman leaves the inquiry into Lori Douglas, the Manitoba judge being investigated by the Canadian Judicial Council for allegations that she and her husband harassed Chapman. (file image)
By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, July 20, 2012 2:20PM CST
Last Updated Friday, July 20, 2012 3:00PM CST
Manitoba Justice Lori Douglas may have known about her naked photos on the Internet before a sexual harassment claim was made, an inquiry into the matter was told Friday.
Douglas, an associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, is being investigated by the Canadian Judicial Council for allegations that she and her husband, Jack King, harassed a man named Alexander Chapman in 2003.
At the time, Douglas and King were lawyers at the same firm, and King was Chapman's divorce lawyer.
King and Douglas have maintained all along that King uploaded sexually explicit photos of Douglas to a website and asked Chapman to have sex with her, but did so without Douglas's knowledge.
On Friday, another partner in the firm, Michael Sinclair, testified that King told him Douglas might have known that some of the photos were online. But Sinclair says King seemed unclear, so he believed Douglas didn't know anything about her husband's actions.
"Jack was so uncertain about his statement that I didn't give it any credence," Sinclair told the inquiry.
Sinclair also said Douglas appeared shocked when he discussed the matter with her, and the law firm stood by her and never suggested she quit.
"She didn't cause those photos to be published to the Internet. I didn't think -- and don't think now -- that we should blame the victim."
Chapman's lawyer, Rocco Galati, seized upon Sinclair's statement, saying the law firm undertook only a "very anemic" review of the event and blindly accepted the idea that Douglas was not part of the sexual harassment of Chapman.
"You took her word that she was the victim," Galati said.
"You're assuming she didn't know what (King) had done."
Chapman, who is black, alleges he was approached by King to have sex with Douglas, and was directed to Dark Cavern, a website dedicated to sex between black men and white women. On that website were two dozen photos of Douglas, some of which showed her in bondage gear or performing sex acts. King also emailed some photos to Chapman.
King has admitted to harassing Chapman and pleaded guilty to professional misconduct. In 2003, he paid Chapman $25,000 to settle the matter, on the condition Chapman return all the photos and never discuss the matter publicly. Chapman broke that deal in 2010, saying he was still suffering.
The events occurred two years before Douglas was appointed a judge.
The inquiry is to examine next week whether Douglas disclosed the matter to the committee that screened her application. The inquiry panel has the power to recommend to the federal Justice minister that Douglas be removed from her job.
Douglas and King, who have one child together, remain married. Sinclair told the inquiry he suggested to Douglas that she leave King when the matter came to light in 2003, but she refused.
"She said she couldn't do that. She was concerned about Jack."
King has said he was going through a mental breakdown and suffering from depression when the photos were taken and uploaded. He told his disciplinary hearing last year that Douglas indulged him in his strange sexual tastes.
King was ordered to pay $14,000 in costs after his disciplinary hearing before the Law Society of Manitoba. However, he retains his licence to practice law.