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This article was published 5/1/2011 (4037 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA - A sexual harassment complaint against an associate chief justice in Manitoba has been deemed worthy of further investigation, the Canadian Judicial Council ruled Wednesday.
Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas has been on leave from her duties since September, shortly after her accuser went public with his claims.
Alex Chapman, a former client of Douglas’s husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, alleges King tried to coerce him into having sex with Douglas while representing Chapman on a divorce case in 2003. He said King also sent him explicit nude photos of Douglas, who was a lawyer at the time in the same firm as King.
Chapman also made a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against Douglas. The complaint was investigated by Albert Chief Justice Neil Wittman.
The council announced today Wittman has decided the complaint merits further investigation and is sending it on to the next step in the review process. It will now be investigated by a review panel of five judges.
The council was careful to note the allegations have not been proven and the decision to forward the complaint to the review panel does not mean Wittman drew any conclusions about them.
The council - made up of 39 judges including the chief and associate chief justices from each province - has the authority to investigate complaints against all federally-appointed judges in Canada. It receives about 160 complaints a year. Usually about half of them are dismissed during the initial review by a member of the conduct committee.
After Chapman went public, another woman made a complaint against Douglas, alleging the judge had a personal relationship with the complainant’s ex-husband and that Douglas should not have heard the divorce case involving the couple. Wittman found there was no evidence to support that complaint, saying it was based on speculation, hearsay and assumptions.
An outside lawyer reviewed the matter and agreed with Wittman’s assessment.
The outside reference was required because Douglas, as an associate chief justice in Manitoba is a member of the Canadian Judicial Council.
Chapman also filed several civil suits in the case against Douglas and King. All have been dismissed by the courts.
The Law Society of Manitoba has laid three counts of professional misconduct against King in relation to the allegations made by Chapman.