Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Judge faces second complaint

Similar to sexual harassment allegations

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Judge Lori Douglas is facing a second judicial misconduct complaint similar to the sexual harassment and intimidation allegations that threaten to end her career on the bench.

A preliminary ruling released by the Canadian Judicial Council Thursday revealed the existence of this second complaint against the Manitoba judge, whose nude photos appeared online.

The review committee was established last year to determine whether Douglas has a future on the bench. Until now, it was only known the CJC had been investigating one complaint against Douglas -- a written complaint from Alex Chapman.

Chapman is a former client of Douglas's husband, lawyer Jack King.

In 2010, Chapman went public with allegations he was paid $25,000 to keep quiet about images he was sent of Douglas, and requests for him to engage in sexual activity with her. The incidents were alleged to have happened while King was representing Chapman in a divorce trial in 2003.

However, a preliminary report by the inquiry committee now says there are two complaints. One was a written complaint. The second involves "two discs, apparently anonymously submitted to the (CJC)." The second complaint was treated as separate by the CJC executive director.

Johanna Laporte, spokeswoman for the CJC, said Thursday the complaints came from "different people but are of the same nature."

Chapman's complaint relates to sexual harassment and intimidation.

The contents of the second complaint appear to be explicit and Douglas's lawyer has argued strenuously it is not a valid complaint. According to Thursday's ruling, Douglas’s lawyer was concerned a second, anonymous complaint submitted to the Canadian Judicial Council regarding her client raised serious legal issues, as well as serious personal implications for the judge.

The five-member inquiry panel will not see the contents of the second complaint until after a preliminary hearing set for Winnipeg on Saturday. Details of the allegations of both complaints will be laid out for the first time at that hearing, said Laporte.

Douglas has never spoken publicly about the situation. King has said his wife did nothing wrong and has called the accusations against her "fabrications." Her lawyer has stated Douglas disclosed the situation with Chapman while she was being vetted for the bench in 2005.

Chapman said Thursday the hearing has been too long in coming.

"I am looking forward to it but it should have happened two years ago...," he said. "I am trying to get my life together now. I want to go on with my life, but I am not able to because of this thing hanging over me."

Chapman has asked for intervener status at the hearing. That will be discussed Saturday.

Once the inquiry is finished, the committee will recommend whether or not to remove the judge from the bench. That has only happened once before. In one other instance, a judge stepped aside before the committee made its ruling.

In January 2011, another complaint against Douglas was dismissed. That complaint came from a woman who said Douglas should have recused herself from a divorce case because of a personal relationship with the woman's ex-husband.

The judge reviewing the case found there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Oct. 8, 2002: Alex Chapman hires lawyer Jack King to represent him in a divorce case.

April/May 2003: During the course of Chapman's divorce trial and in the weeks that follow, King invites him to lunch several times, emails Chapman explicit images of his wife, lawyer Lori Douglas, along with links to pornographic websites and suggests he wants Chapman to have sex with Douglas.

May 17, 2003: Chapman meets Douglas and King at Earls on Main. King leaves Douglas and Chapman to spend two hours talking. That night, King sends an email to Chapman saying his wife "rather liked you." Five days later, the three meet again and Chapman claims Douglas begins "inappropriately touching him" and invites him back to their home for a future meeting.

June 3, 2003: Chapman contacts a lawyer and sends him all the nude photos, emails and other documents. Three days later, the lawyer contacts King's law firm and shares everything Chapman has provided to him about King. Three weeks later, King sends Chapman a cheque for $25,000, and Chapman agrees to delete all the emails and photos King had sent him. He also agreed not to seek legal action or speak publicly. King ultimately resigns from the law firm and takes a one-year medical leave.

May 19, 2005: Lori Douglas is appointed as a justice with the Court of Queen's Bench, family division.

May 14, 2009: Douglas is appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench (Family Division).

July 13, 2010: Chapman files a professional-misconduct complaint to the Manitoba Law Society about King.

July 15, 2010: Chapman files a sexual-harassment and intimidation complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council about Douglas. At some point, a second complaint is received by the CJC. The complaint is submitted anonymously and includes two discs of information. It is from a different person but is of the same nature as Chapman's complaint.

Sept. 1, 2010: Chapman files lawsuits against King, Douglas and their former law firm, seeking $67 million in damages. Later in the day, Douglas announces she is temporarily stepping down from active duty, although she will continue in administration. Chapman soon withdraws the lawsuits against Douglas and the former law firm, and the suit against King is dismissed two months later.

Nov. 4, 2010: King is cited for three counts of professional misconduct by the Law Society of Manitoba for the situation involving Chapman. He pleads guilty in March 2011 and is issued a reprimand.

Jan. 6, 2011: An initial review of the complaint against Douglas determines it warrants further consideration and is forwarded to a review panel of five judges.

July 6, 2011: The five-judge review panel sends the investigation to a rare public inquiry to determine if Douglas should be removed from the bench.


-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2012 B1


Updated on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 10:17 AM CDT: corrects attribution of quote regarding a complaint that could have serious legal implications for Douglas

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