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CJC documents made public in Douglas’ Inquiry

|Written By Kendyl Sebesta

The Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry Committee has released correspondence, submissions, and rulings related to Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas’ inquiry showing Alex Chapman will have limited standing during the ongoing inquiry against Douglas.

The inquiry's ruling means Chapman's lawyer will be able to question Douglas and King on the stand.

Independent lawyers and counsel for Douglas adamently opposed granting Chapman any type of standing.

Douglas is the subject of an investigation by the CJCå that stems from a 2010 sexual harassment complaint launched by Chapman against her. The complaint alleges Douglas sexually harassed and discriminated against him.

According to the notice of allegations against Douglas filed in May, Chapman alleges Douglas knowingly participated with her husband and former law-partner, Jack King, in Chapman’s alleged sexual harassment and should have or ought to have known it would cause him discomfort or humiliation.

The alleged sexual harassment first surfaced between April and June 2003 in Winnipeg, when King directed Chapman to a website where King had posted graphic, nude photos of Douglas, says the notice.

The website also allegedly linked the photos with two ads soliciting black sexual partners for Douglas.

During that time, King also allegedly e-mailed nude, graphic photos of Douglas to Chapman and talked to Chapman by phone, e-mail, and in person in an attempt to solicit his wife to Chapman for sex, the notice alleges.

Douglas, however, maintains she wasn’t aware of the nature of the meetings with Chapman, never had sex with Chapman, and was a victim throughout the process, Douglas’ reply to the allegations against her shows.

King ultimately paid Chapman $25,000 in exchange for a confidentiality agreement surrounding the alleged sexual harassment in 2003.

But in 2010, King sued Chapman for breach of contract for disclosing the nature of the sexual harrasment allegations against him to the CBC and for lodging a complaint with the CJC. In Sept. 2010, the court ordered all photos returned by all parties. The council also recieved two discs containing nude photos of Douglas and several other women unidentified at that time. They have been instructed not to consider them in the inquiry against Douglas.

According to Douglas’ reply to the allegations against her submitted by her counsel in May, King claimed he was going through “a depression” and tried to solicit Chapman to have sex with his wife without her knowledge or consent. It notes Chapman was the first person King ever spoke to about his sexual fantasies involving Douglas.

Douglas, who is an associate chief justice in Manitoba, had been working at the same Winnipeg law firm as her husband at the time. King was representing Chapman in his divorce proceedings at the time of the allegations. He was asked to leave his firm after news of the allegations spread among the Manitoba legal community, the notice shows.

None of the allegations in the notice have been proven.

One of the issues of the inquiry will likely explore further is Douglas’ disclosure in the judicial application process, as well as what information members of the council had at the time she was considered for judicial appointment.

Douglas was appointed as a judge in 2005 and became an associate chief justice in 2009.

Two investigations by the Law Society of Manitoba relating to King’s conduct have since followed. Last year, King pleaded guilty to three counts of professional misconduct and received a reprimand. He admitted sharing photos with Chapman, but his lawyer said his client was acting without his wife’s knowledge.

The Inquiry Committee will resume its public hearings on July 16 at the Federal Court in Winnipeg. It will ultimately consider whether Douglas’ conduct warrants removal from the bench and will hear from Douglas and King.


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