WINNIPEG — There’s a Tim Hortons and a bank on the ground floor of the Federal Court building here, but honest to Pete, what the place really needs now are public showers.
During a full day in the witness stand, Jack King was grilled about his bedroom tastes and practices, the sexual fantasy that led to his own disgrace and his wife’s humiliation (not to mention putting her career as a judge in serious jeopardy) and many times volunteered his stupidity, admitted his legal mistakes and fell on his sword.
It was, in essence, a day-long mea culpa, with this 66-year-old man with the lion-sized head so suffused with shame he was only infrequently able to lift his gaze.
Fresh from hip surgery which has left him temporarily walking with a cane and in pain, King was testifying at the judicial inquiry underway here into the purported conduct of his wife, Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas.
She is alleged, in the central accusation, to have participated in her husband’s sexual harassment of his then-client, Alex Chapman. Judge Douglas has always denied she had any knowledge of what her husband was doing, and so has King.
His misconduct is so well-established that somewhere in the country, it may already be being taught in law school.
King liked to take explicit pictures of his wife, and had a fantasy "about a threesome of an interracial nature" (Chapman is black). At some point, in 2000 or 2001, King discovered a hard-core sex site called Dark Cavern and began posting pictures there, without, he said, his wife’s knowledge.
He took a step, in other words, to make his fantasy real.
As he put it with some wisdom Tuesday, a sexual fantasy "originates in one’s mind, yes. It doesn’t necessarily stay there."
(King’s claim of his wife’s ignorance ought to get a common-sense boost by the fact that Douglas already had put in her first application for the bench in December of 1999. It is difficult to reconcile that a lawyer sufficiently ambitious to seek the judiciary would cheerfully agree to have sex pictures of her put online. Douglas, as she then was, put in another application in January of 2002, and a final and successful one in late 2004).
Two years ago, when Chapman decided to re-blow the whistle on the harassment that had got him a $25,000 settlement from King back in 2003 and went to the CBC and the Canadian Judicial Council with his allegations, King pleaded guilty at the provincial Law Society to professional misconduct, and was reprimanded and fined.
Yet, now well into its second week of evidence, the five-member CJC panel has heard not a shred of evidence — beyond Chapman’s professed belief that Douglas must have known and been playing along — that the judge knew a thing.
She sent no e-mails to Chapman, as King did. She left no voice-mails for him, as King did. Her gardening diary from 2003, with its contemporaneous notes, reflects only her rage and embarrassment at King.
The only issue squarely before the panel is, as Judge Douglas’s lawyer, Sheila Block, snapped once in frustration, "What, if anything, this man told his wife... He has pleaded guilty. We’re not re-trying him here."
The only new news, as it were, to come out of King’s evidence thus far is what he said about how he first came to raise his fantasy with Chapman.
Chapman’s divorce, but for the last-minute paperwork, was done, and King "asked him if he knew a black gentleman who might be interested in seducing my wife in a threesome. He (Chapman) said essentially, ‘Look no further. I’m just the chap for you."
That raises at least the possibility that Chapman, who is a deeply suspicious man with a chip the size of the Prairie on his shoulder and a litigious past, was setting up King and thought he had a live one on the hook. This wouldn’t offer King a legal out — lawyers aren’t meant to sexually harass their clients — but it’s at least on the table.
Chapman, for the record, in four days of testimony last week, admitted he had "played along" with King’s fantasy, but said he did so out of fear that his divorce wouldn’t otherwise proceed.
In any case, it appears plain that though King’s conduct is purportedly not at issue here, it actually is.
Why ever else would he have been asked questions that led to him replying, at one point, that the excitement for him was in taking the pictures, not in looking at them afterwards, or that he watched pornography sometimes, or that the pictures weren’t staged or posed, or that his wife wasn’t generally keen on sex in the morning?
He was abject, for the most part, but there were a couple of moments when he found his spirit. One was when he seized upon a legal issue — it remains under a publication ban until the panel deals with it — and though bets are the judges will rule against him, the brief display of feistiness was cheering to behold.
The other came when independent counsel Guy Pratte was questioning him about a meeting he’d had, way back in 2003 when Chapman’s lawyer had sent his firm a demand note for $100,000, the start of what King calls "the disaster of 2003."
King had gone over to the lawyer’s office, and now he was being asked about notes an assistant had made, suggesting that he had not been ashamed or embarrassed.
"I was ashamed," he said. "I was embarrassed. But I think I did say I was not ashamed of being a sexual being."
Good for you, Jack King, I thought. It won’t go over well with this lot I suspect, but good for you.
Christie Blatchford is a columnist for Postmedia News.