Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Colleague says Douglas the victim in sex scandal

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One of the managing partners of a Winnipeg law firm says he was stunned to learn of a sex scandal involving two of his colleagues.

But Michael Sinclair says he has no doubt Lori Douglas -- now a Manitoba judge -- was a true victim and did nothing wrong.

Sinclair took the witness stand Friday morning to testify before the Canadian Judicial Council, which is weighing the future of Douglas at a public hearing.

Sinclair says he received a complaint in 2003 that lawyer Jack King had tried to entice his client, Alex Chapman, into a sexual tryst with Douglas, whom King was married to.

The information included explicit emails King had sent to Chapman, and nude photos of Douglas that King had sent his client.

Sinclair immediately spoke to King, who at first denied any wrongdoing. But King later admitted what he'd done and said his wife may have been aware of one porn site where he'd placed her pictures but knew "basically nothing" else.

Sinclair then sat down with Douglas to discuss the issue.

"She was shattered. She was very upset, very emotional," Sinclair said Friday. "She said she didn't know anything about any of this."

Under questioning from lawyers, Sinclair said he truly believes Douglas is innocent of any wrongdoing.

"She's a person of integrity and honesty. I accepted what she told me," he said. "The only thing she did is allow Jack King to take pictures of her naked, which I understand was a part of their sex life."

Sinclair said Douglas had an expectation of privacy -- which her husband clearly breached.

"She didn't cause these photos to be published and put on the Internet. I don't think now we should be blaming the victim," he said.

Chapman, through his lawyer Ian Histed, was demanding a $100,000 payment to keep quiet about what King did.

Lawyers ultimately struck a $25,000 settlement, which Chapman breached in 2010 when he went public with the allegations.

That set forth a chain of events, including King being disciplined by the law society and Douglas now under review by the CJC.

King is expected to take the witness stand Friday afternoon, with Douglas likely testifying next week.

Chapman spent four full days giving evidence, and his credibility repeatedly came under attack from lawyers representing Douglas.

Chapman painted himself as the victim of a corrupt system whose life and career have been ruined by Douglas and King.

But the CJC heard evidence he's apparently no stranger to the type of sexual tryst he claims disgusted him.

Diary entries submitted to the council include several references by Chapman to receiving $500 weekly to "do" his elderly neighbour's wife in 2003.

Credibility will be key in deciding who is telling the truth in this case -- Chapman or Douglas.

Chapman told the CJC he remembers Douglas putting her hands on different parts of his body when they met at a local restaurant one night in 2003, at the behest of King.

Chapman said he went along with the plans because he feared the wrath of his lawyer and what it would mean to his ongoing divorce proceedings if he didn't go along with King's sexual fantasies involving his wife.

Douglas was appointed to the bench in 2005 and has been on leave since August 2010 because of the judicial-council investigation.

Chapman says he broke his silence because he believes another judge who is friends with Douglas interfered in his civil court case against Winnipeg police, which was settled out of court in 2010. Under cross-examination, Chapman admitted he has "no direct proof" of such a conspiracy.

Chapman has come under fire for other issues, including evidence a copy of an employment-termination letter found on his computer had been altered to delete details of him being caught doctoring his resumé. Chapman has admitted to a history of filing civil lawsuits and small-claims suits and has a criminal past that resulted in a pardon.

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