Judge nude scandal

Judge temporarily off bench over online sex photos

A prominent Manitoba judge whose husband allegedly posted nude photos of her in bondage gear engaging in oral sex on an Internet porn site has been temporarily relieved of her duties.

Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Family Division, became the centre of a scandal on Tuesday following media reports that she is the subject of at least 30 sexually explicit photos posted online.

"In the interests of the judiciary and of the court, Associate Chief Justice Douglas has requested to be temporarily relieved of her duties as a sitting judge of the Court of Queen's Bench and will remain in her position in an administrative capacity" pending the outcome of a judicial investigation, said Chief Justice Marc Monnin on Wednesday.

The personal lives of Judge Douglas and her husband, Winnipeg family lawyer Jack King, were thrust into the headlines on Tuesday when a Winnipeg man went public about complaints he lodged against the couple with two judicial oversight bodies.

Winnipeg computer programmer Alex Chapman, 44, told CBC News he first met Mr. King in 2002 when he hired the lawyer to represent him during his divorce proceedings.

Mr. Chapman, who is black and originally from Trinidad, claimed that Mr. King encouraged his client to visit Darkcavern.com, a porn website depicting sex between black men and white women.

Mr. Chapman said Mr. King gave him a password to an area on the website where photos of Ms. Douglas, engaged in a variety of poses featuring bondage gear, sex toys and oral sex, were posted.

Mr. Chapman told the CBC that Mr. King showed him about 30 nude photos of his wife in an attempt to entice him to have sex with her. She was a lawyer in the same firm at the time and became a judge in 2005.

After his divorce was finalized in 2003, Mr. Chapman filed a complaint with Mr. King's law firm, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman.

Soon after, Mr. King took a one-year medical leave.

Bill Gange, Mr. King's lawyer, said on Wednesday that his client had "inappropriate" discussions with Mr.

Chapman, but stressed that Judge Douglas and Mr. Chapman "never had any sexual contact," nor did the judge have any knowledge her husband had asked Mr. Chapman to have sex with her.

He said his client was suffering from depression at the time.

Mr. Gange said that by granting media interviews about his relationship with the couple, Mr. Chapman breached the 2003 confidentiality agreement he signed with Mr. King in exchange for $25,000. The agreement stipulated that Mr. Chapman would not take legal action and would return all documentation and photos provided to him by Mr. King.

"Those pictures were meant to be private photos between Jack and Lori," Mr. Gange told the National Post. "What Jack and Lori do in my view is between them. It is nobody's business."

Mr. Chapman could not be reached for comment.

Norman Sabourin, executive director of the Canadian Judicial Council, the body that investigates complaints against judges, told the National Post that his organization received a complaint from Mr. Chapman on July 15 alleging "sexual harassment and discrimination" by Judge Douglas. She could not be reached for comment.

"We are at the review stage, and it's before a chief justice on the conduct committee who decides whether to take the complaint a step further or dismiss it," Mr. Sabourin said.

As an associate chief justice, Judge Douglas is a member of the Canadian Judicial Council. Mr. Sabourin emphasized that all reviews of complaints against chief justices are reviewed by members from other provinces, so as to avoid conflicts of interest. Any decision to dismiss a complaint against a chief justice, he said, must be approved by an outside, independent lawyer. The investigation is expected to take three months.

Allan Fineblit, chief executive officer of the Manitoba Law Society, also confirmed on Wednesday that his organization is investigating Mr. Chapman complaint.

But at least one legal expert thinks stepping down isn't enough. Annalise Acorn, a law professor at the University of Alberta, said Judge Douglas should resign.

"Everyone denounces Tiger Woods for having affairs. But all Tiger Woods has to do is hit a ball," Ms. Acorn said. "A judge has to make decisions about law and justice that affect people's lives in profound ways. To do so, they must command genuine authority and respect. This situation makes that impossible for Douglas."

On Wednesday Mr. Chapman filed three separate lawsuits at the Winnipeg courts, seeking $10-million from Mr. King, $7-million from Judge Douglas and $50-million from the law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman.

Mr. Chapman is claiming "assault, harassment, misfeasance in public office, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress in his statement of claim."

None of the allegations has been proven, and the parties have one month to file a statement of defence.

(Published by National Post - September 2, 2010)

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