Manitoba judge’s accuser faces scrutiny at inquiry
Published Monday, July 16, 2012 6:30AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 16, 2012 11:48PM EDT
A man who claims he was sexually harassed by a Manitoba judge faced intense scrutiny at a public inquiry Monday as a lawyer challenged his allegations.
On the first day of testimony, Alex Chapman told the inquiry that Jack King, husband of Justice Lori Douglas, pointed him to a website that contained explicit photos of her.
Chapman, who is black, said he felt “bullied” into visiting Dark Cavern, the site devoted to interracial sex, because King was his divorce lawyer at the time.
Chapman said King gave him the password to the site and mentioned “white princess,” the name attached to a gallery of photos including those of Douglas.
But independent counsel Kirsten Crain suggested that Chapman knew it was “a hard-core sex site” and that he was an “interested” visitor, not an innocent victim.
She also pointed out that Chapman has a history of filing lawsuits, including two against the Winnipeg Police Service alleging false arrest. One of those suits has been either withdrawn or dismissed while the other is still pending.
The Canadian Judicial Council is investigating a complaint filed by Chapman in 2010, in which he alleges that King gave him nude photos of his wife and encouraged him to have sex with her.
At the time, King was handling Chapman’s divorce and Douglas was still a lawyer, working at the same firm as her husband.
Some of the photos, which ended up online, show Douglas in bondage gear and performing sex acts. Douglashas admitted that the photos are of her, but insists that her husband posted the images online and approached Chapman without her knowledge.
She has also said that King was suffering a mental breakdown at the time.
King admitted last year that he gave Chapman explicit photos in 2003 and encouraged him to have sex with Douglas, although all parties agree the two never actually had sex.
Nevertheless, Chapman’s complaint prompted an inquiry into whether Douglas is fit to be a judge.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegation, Douglas is also being accused of failing to disclose the issue when she was screened for an appointment to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in 2005.
The inquiry’s findings could see Douglas removed from the bench.
Chapman was repeatedly asked Monday why he continued to meet with King if he was put off by the lawyer’s suggestions of sex with his wife.
"Did you ever tell (King), sir, that you just weren't interested?" Crain asked him.
"I didn't say those words," Chapman said. "I just had a week or two left to finish my divorce."
Chapman eventually conceded that he had no evidence that Douglas was aware of King’s proposal.
"You have no information to suggest that she was aware that her pictures were on the Internet," Crain said.
"I'm under the impression she had to know. She clearly posed for those pictures," Chapman replied.
"Let's all go take a polygraph test, because I don't have time for this witch hunt," Chapman said angrily at one point.
In recently released diary entries, Douglas wrote that her world collapsed when she found out her husband had posted graphic photos of her online.
The public has also learned that King paid Chapman $25,000 to get the photos back, a deal stipulating that Chapman could not discuss any of what transpired. But Chapman went public regardless, saying he suffers chronic stress and could not keep silent about the issue.
Chapman has been awarded standing at Douglas’ hearing, which means his lawyer is allowed to question three witnesses, including Douglas.
The case has stirred up questions about Canada’s screening guidelines for prospective judges, specifically how much information applicants should be required to disclose. The explicit photos of Douglas also raise questions about expectations for public figures when off-duty.
Part of a CJC document titled “Ethical Principles for Judges” indicates that judges should expect their actions to be scrutinized even when they are out of court.
“Judges must therefore accept some restrictions on their activities -- even activities that would not elicit adverse notice if carried out by other members of the community,” according to the document which lays out personal conduct guidelines for judges.
King has been reprimanded by the Law Society of Manitoba for professional misconduct and ordered to pay $14,000 for prosecution costs. Meanwhile, as the inquiry goes on, Douglas has been removed from hearing cases.
With files from The Canadian Press