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This article was published 8/9/2010 (4156 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Manitoba judge who temporarily removed herself from active duties pending a federal review of her status is facing new allegations of wrongdoing, the Free Press has learned.
A Winnipeg woman has made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council, claiming recent revelations about the personal life of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas have led her to believe she was the victim of an unfair court hearing. The woman says she unsuccessfully filed for a prevention order against her estranged husband, a lawyer who admits to being a "sex addict," while appearing before Douglas in 2008.
Justice sources told the Free Press on Tuesday there is concern the controversy surrounding Douglas could open the floodgates to complaints from people who feel they were wronged by her in family court and now want a review of their case. Chief Justice Marc Monnin offered no comment. Alex Chapman, a Winnipeg computer programmer, came forward last week with sexual harassment allegations against Douglas and her husband, lawyer Jack King. Chapman, 44, said King tried to coerce him into having sex with Douglas while representing him on a divorce case in 2003. He said King also sent him explicit nude photographs of Douglas, who was a lawyer at the time in the same firm of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman.
Chapman made a complaint about King’s conduct with senior partners at the law firm in June 2003. King’s lawyer said last week King acknowledged that he did meet and talk about sex with Chapman, but only after Chapman obtained his divorce in April 2003. King struck a confidentiality agreement with Chapman that involved paying him $25,000. In exchange, Chapman agreed to return all photos of Douglas, not seek legal action and not speak publicly about the case. King also agreed to leave the firm and take a one-year medical leave. The Law Society interviewed him but told the Free Press last week they took no disciplinary action because no formal complaint was filed.
Chapman now admits to violating the agreement and has filed lawsuits totalling $67 million against Douglas, King and their former law firm. King’s lawyer, Bill Gange, told the Free Press last week that Douglas disclosed details of her husband’s "problem" with Chapman to the committee that vetted her judicial nomination in 2005. However, he doesn’t know how detailed her admission was and whether it included revelations about the nude photos, which King had posted online. Both King and Douglas have declined to comment.
The issue of what Douglas knew, and what she disclosed, is important because aspiring judges are required to answer the following question: "Is there anything in your past or present which could reflect negatively on yourself or the judiciary?"
Douglas announced last week she would remove herself from active duty while the Canadian Judicial Council reviewed Chapman’s allegations. King is also being investigated for professional misconduct by the Law Society of Manitoba.
In the new complaint against Douglas, the woman behind it claims the fact there are photographs of Douglas engaging in explicit sexual acts should have disqualified her from hearing the woman’s case based on a perception of bias.
Court documents show the woman and her husband were married in 2004 but filed for divorce in 2006. The husband admits to having an interest in bondage and sado-masochism and to being suspended by the Law Society of Alberta in 2007 for sexually harassing two women he worked with at a law firm. He also admits to having an affair with one of the women while his wife was pregnant.
The woman applied for a prevention order against her husband, accusing him of stalking her online, sending her repeated unwanted text messages and posing a safety risk to her and her son. Her husband told the court he was seeking treatment for his sexual disorder and infidelity but denied her claims that he was a "sexual predator" who posed a danger to their young child.
The woman also filed a report by Dr. Fred Shane, a forensic psychiatrist in Winnipeg. Shane diagnosed the woman as suffering from battered women’s syndrome at the hands of her husband, who he called a "psychological predator." Shane also noted the man’s deviant sexual interests, which included making his wife participate in rape scenarios and other violent sexual acts.
The matter went to court on Aug. 13, 2008 before Justice Douglas, who refused to grant the order. A prevention order is only granted when the court is satisfied that stalking or domestic violence has occurred, that the person seeking relief reasonably believes it will continue or resume, and that the person requires protection because there is a reasonable likelihood the domestic violence or stalking will continue or resume.
According to a court transcript, Douglas said she was "not overly persuaded by Dr. Shane."
"I have read Dr. Shane’s reports many a time, including this time and on another occasion and with exactly the same diagnosis with about as much evidence," Douglas said.
The woman’s lawyer objected, telling Douglas there was no other evidence before the court to contradict what Shane had found.
"That is the problem then, isn’t it? It’s your client’s assertion and that’s all," said Douglas. According to the complaint filed last week, Douglas denied the prevention order but issued a "no contact or communication order" under the Family Maintenance Act, which applied to both parties. The woman alleges that deprived her of certain protections that would have been offered by a prevention order.
A previous application by the wife for a protection order filed before a magistrate was also dismissed on June 20, 2008.
The woman alleges she has since learned her ex-husband and Douglas knew each before she became a judge, but didn’t provide any specifics. The prevention order hearing was Douglas’s only involvement in the divorce, which was heard by another judge and became official in March 2009. The allegations in the complaint are unproven and no appeal of Douglas’s decision was filed at the time.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.