Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

King staunchly defends wife's 'goodness'

Lawyers hammer at judge's husband's testimony in scandal

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Long before Lori Douglas was granted a judicial appointment in 2005, rumours of what her husband had done swirled throughout Winnipeg's legal community.

In the summer of 2003, there was a "reasonably general knowledge" in the legal community that sexually charged photos of Douglas had been posted online, Douglas's husband, Jack King, testified in his second and final full day of testimony before a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry.

But Douglas herself, King insisted, only learned about what he had done with their private photos -- and about how he had used them in an attempt to entice his client, Alex Chapman, into a "threesome" -- at about the same time.

After Chapman's lawyer approached him with the allegations, King borrowed $25,000 from Douglas to pay a settlement. King considers that settlement tantamount to blackmail, he told the inquiry, though he paid it to avoid his own embarrassment.

Douglas was not involved in the settlement, King said, and he could not recall if she had asked specifically about how he had destroyed the nude images.

"I'm not sure you do understand how terrible it was," King said of the apparent gaps in communication between himself and Douglas at the time.

Many words flew about the Broadway courtroom during King's testimony. But few of them, it seemed, brought the five-member inquiry panel much closer to answering their four key questions.

Those questions: Was Douglas complicit in King's overtures to Chapman? Did she fully disclose the situation with the photos and with Chapman while applying to the judiciary? Did she hide any facts from the inquiry? And will the scandal harm her ability to continue working as a judge?

The proceedings sometimes drifted away from those charges on Wednesday as King tangled with inquiry lawyers over terminology -- is "group sex" equivalent to "a threesome?" -- and gruffly responded to questions about the aftermath of the 2003 settlement with Chapman, and about his sexual proclivities.

For instance, Chapman's lawyer, Rocco Galati, noted that when posting the nude photos of Douglas online, King used the username Wedza, after a town in Zimbabwe. Did King associate Zimbabwe with sexual bondage?

"No, not at all," King replied icily.

As the questions delved deeper, Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, twice objected that the questioning amounted to a "retrial" of King, who pleaded guilty to professional misconduct last year. He was ordered to pay the Law Society of Manitoba $13,650 but retained his licence to practice law.

On Wednesday, King defiantly told the inquiry he pleaded guilty to that sexual harassment charge only because he had no legal defence.

"I do not accept that in the usual and standard wording that I ever harassed Alex Chapman," he said.

Douglas could face a much steeper penalty than her husband. The inquiry panel could recommend she be removed from the bench. But so far, there has been little concrete evidence presented that Douglas knew what her husband was up to on the couple's basement computer and in his dealings with Chapman.

For his part, King spent much of Wednesday repeating that point: Douglas knew nothing about what he had done with the photos or even whether they existed outside the camera, he said. The only time that composure wavered was late in the day, under a withering and rapid-fire cross-examination from George Macintosh, the inquiry panel's lawyer.

"Did you ever say, 'Don't worry, there's no film in there?' " Macintosh asked.

King replied he did not.

"So you and she knew that there were probably 36 pictures that came from the 36 pictures you snapped of her," Macintosh said.

In a response typical of the precision he turned to throughout his testimony, King replied she would not have counted the number of photos he took. But a few minutes later, he volunteered one last, familiar refrain, a final plea for the wife he earlier praised for her "goodness" and ability to forgive.

"My wife did not know anything," he said, in the closing moments of his testimony. "This was my little endeavour."

The Canadian Judicial Council inquiry continues today and Friday with more witness testimony. It is likely Douglas will not appear before the inquiry until it resumes for a third week of hearings, which was proposed for September.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2012 A5

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