Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Judge in sex flap breaks silence
-- Speaks out in advance of judicial inquiry -- While panel tables list of allegations
She has remained silent while sordid allegations about her personal life have put her professional career in jeopardy.
But Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas is finally speaking out in advance of a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry that will decide if she is fit to remain behind the bench.
Douglas filed a detailed response Thursday to the official "notice of allegations" that have been laid against her. Her lawyers say this is her long-overdue chance to clear the air about a case that has made headlines around the world.
"(Douglas) has been faced with tremendous embarrassment and humiliation as her bench, the bar and members of the public have been presented with one-sided distorted accounts of the events relevant to the complaints raised against her," the document states. "This response represents the first time (her) account of the events in question will be heard."
The Canadian Judicial Council filed its own paperwork Thursday, outlining the four specific charges to which Douglas must answer when the judicial panel is expected to begin hearing the case next month.
Douglas saves some of her harshest criticism for her own husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, who admits handing out nude photos of Douglas to one of his former clients, Alex Chapman. The incidents occurred in 2003 before Douglas was a judge.
"The notice of allegation states that Ms. Douglas knowingly participated with King in the sexual harassment of Chapman. This charge against (her) is a complete fabrication. She has been the victim of wrongdoing by both her husband and Chapman," her lawyers say.
"Her husband, in acts of unimaginable betrayal, in pursuit of mad and undisclosed fantasy, solicited Chapman to have sex with Ms. Douglas. King emailed Chapman intimate photos of his wife and posted certain other intimate photos on a website to which he directed Chapman, all without any knowledge of Ms. Douglas."
Douglas further accuses Chapman of trying to use her husband's "aberrant behaviour" as an opportunity to extort money from him. She called allegations she met twice with Chapman for a sexual purpose "complete fabrications."
"As Ms. Douglas had no knowledge of her husband's scheme and fantasy, she could not know anything about Chapman's reaction," the documents state. "Chapman was a willing participant in this despicable scheme."
Chapman and King agreed to a $25,000 confidentiality settlement in 2003, but Chapman re-emerged in 2010 and filed a $67-million lawsuit against the couple and the law firm where they worked. The lawsuit was later dropped, and King pleaded guilty to a Law Society of Manitoba charge of professional misconduct. He was reprimanded and ordered to pay $13,650 in legal fees and has since returned to his practice.
Chapman said he was out of the country Thursday afternoon and didn't want to comment. He said he hadn't read the latest material submitted.
A CJC review panel led by Ontario lawyer Guy Pratte concluded last month there was no basis to proceed on the sexual-harassment allegation -- but the five-person inquiry panel led by Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser has overruled Pratte and determined it will be a live issue when the hearing begins.
Douglas has been on leave from the bench since August 2010 during the CJC investigation. She was appointed to the bench in 2005. One of the selection committee's questions was whether there was anything in her past or present that could reflect negatively on her or the judiciary. Douglas answered "No," which forms the basis of one of the CJC allegations.
Douglas blasted that charge, saying the facts of what happened "were well-known in the legal community" and even by the judicial committee that appointed her -- right down to details about the nude photo Douglas describes as "graphic, explicit pictures including bondage." Even the chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench was aware of the issue and supported her bid to become a judge, the documents state.
"Senior members of the bench and bar made it clear to Ms. Douglas that her husband's conduct did not reflect negatively on her. She was urged by them to apply for judicial appointment," her lawyers say. Douglas believed the nude photos of her had been destroyed as a result of the 2003 settlement between King and Chapman and had no reason to think otherwise.
"She did not believe she was responsible or accountable for the wrongdoing of a family member who had victimized her," her lawyers say. "The disclosure required by the judicial application form never required applicants to disclose private lawful sexual activity and such actions are not disclosed."
Douglas also takes issue with allegations she can no longer serve in her capacity as a judge because of the public availability of the photos. She said Chapman is to blame for the exposure they have received as a result of violating the 2003 confidentiality agreement he struck with King.
"The notice of allegations raises the issue of public confidence in the judicial system. Our system of justice, including the process for disciplining judges, does not operate on the basis where the victim of wrongdoing by others is punished. The system of justice would be brought into disrepute if the victim of wrongdoing were punished," her lawyers state.
On the final allegation, Douglas denies failing to fully disclose all relevant information to the CJC review panel. She admits to an oversight regarding one piece of evidence -- some changed wording in her day planner, which was seized -- but blames it on a memory slip rather than anything malicious.
Four main questions facing Douglas at inquiry
HERE are the four specific allegations -- and the key questions included therein -- which Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas is facing at a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry.
None of the allegations has been proven and Douglas has issued her own strongly worded rebuttal denying any wrongdoing. The hearing is set to begin next month in Winnipeg. It is only the eighth time in the council's 40-year history an inquiry has been ordered. The panel can recommend Douglas be removed from the bench.
1. Alleged sexual harassment of Alex Chapman:
Did Lori Douglas, along with her husband, Jack King, carry out specific acts meant to persuade Alex Chapman to have a sexual relationship with her?
Did Douglas know, or should she have known, that specific sexual conduct claimed by Chapman was unwanted and would cause him discomfort, offence or humiliation?
2. Alleged failure to disclose in the applications process
Did Douglas deliberately mislead the selection committee in 2005 when answering "No" to a question about whether there was anything in her past that could negatively reflect on her or the judiciary?
Did Douglas deliberately mislead the selection committee in 2005 by failing to disclose that graphic sexual pictures of her were taken in 2002 and 2003?
Did Douglas deliberately mislead the selection committee in 2005 by failing to disclose that her husband tried to entice Chapman into having a sexual relationship with her in 2003?
3. Alleged incapacity as a result of the public availability of the photos
Do the nude photos of Douglas, which have been and continue to be available online, impact the image and integrity of the judiciary and undermine the public's confidence in the justice system?
4. Did Douglas deliberately withhold or mislead independent counsel about a modification in her personal day planner about a 2003 encounter with Chapman?
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2012 A3
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