Winnipeg lawyer Jack King has been charged with professional misconduct for soliciting a client to have sex with his wife.
The Law Society of Manitoba announced on Thursday that King has been charged with three breaches of the code of professional conduct: integrity (breach of trust), prohibition against sexual harassment and conflict of interest.
The charges, which relate to incidents that took place in 2002 and 2003, have yet to be proven in a disciplinary hearing, which includes two lawyers and one member of the public.
No date for that hearing has yet been set.
King faces the prospect of losing his licence to practise if he is found guilty.
The charges were laid following a lengthy investigation by the law society, which received a formal complaint in July from a former client of King's, Alex Chapman.
"The complaint suggests that this was a breach of integrity in the sense that the lawyer is in a position of trust in relation to the client and the committee felt it was a breach of that trust," said law society CEO Allan Fineblit.
Lawsuit seeks $10 million
Chapman has also filed a $10-million lawsuit against King. The claim, filed in September, alleges Chapman was harassed and suffered emotional distress when he was pressured to have sex with King's wife, Lori Douglas.
The same allegations are made in the complaint filed to the law society, and Chapman also lodged a complaint against Douglas with the Canadian Judicial Council.
Douglas was a lawyer in the same firm as King at the time Chapman was his client and in 2005 was appointed a judge of Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench (family division).
She has temporarily stepped aside from active duty but remains with the court in an administrative capacity while the council investigates the complaint against her.
Chapman first met King in 2002, when he retained the lawyer to handle his divorce.
King showed him sexually explicit photos of Douglas, naked in various forms of bondage, in chains, with sex toys and performing oral sex. That information has been admitted to in court documents submitted by King.
At some point, Chapman, who is black, said King, who is white, also directed him to a porn website devoted to interracial sex, particularly between black men and white women.
When his divorce was concluded, Chapman filed a complaint to the managing partners at the law firm. Soon after receiving the complaint, King left the firm and signed a confidentiality agreement with Chapman, who was paid $25,000.
After seven years of silence, Chapman decided to file the complaint with the law society. He also decided to go public with his allegations at the end of August, telling CBC News he felt distraught about the matter.
King's lawyer, Bill Gange, told CBC News in August that his client was suffering from depression at the time of the incident cited by Chapman. King's wife didn't know he was soliciting a client to have sex with her, Gange said, adding King took time off work on a sick leave after his interaction with Chapman and was put under the care of a doctor.
King's behaviour at the time is not in any way consistent with his behaviour before or since, Gange said.
Although the formal complaint to the law society was filed in July 2010, the society was aware of the allegations as far back as 2003 and confirmed them in 2004.
The following question-and-answer exchange took place in October 2010 between CBC News and Fineblit, the law society CEO:
When and how did the law society first become aware of allegations that Jack King was harassing Alex Chapman?
In the summer of 2003 the law society became aware of rumours that Mr. King had left his firm amid allegations that he had solicited a client to engage in a sexual relationship with Mr. King's wife. We understood that photos of Mr. King's wife had been provided to the client and that photos had been posted on a website. We did not see copies of the photos or have information about the nature of the photos except that they involved nudity. The client had not complained to the law society about Mr. King's conduct. We learned that the client had resolved his concerns to his satisfaction.
As Mr. King was on medical leave and not practising law when this came to our attention, we obtained from him an undertaking not to return to practice until such time as we were satisfied that he did not pose a risk to the public. He did not in fact return to practice until nearly a year later after having provided to us a medical report confirming that he was fit to return to practice. Since then there have been no complaints about him engaging in similar conduct.
When and how did the law society first become aware of allegations that King posted photos of Lori Douglas on the internet?
In the summer of 2003 the law society first became aware, via rumours, of allegations that Mr. King had posted photos of Ms. Douglas on a website without her knowledge or consent. By the time we learned that photos had been posted, they had been removed from the website.
Did the law society have in its possession, or did it see abstracts of the website or the photos? Was it aware of these items when it was contacted either by, or both by the Provincial Judicial Approval Committee or any members thereof, or the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs?
The law society did not have copies of the photos or any specific details about their content in 2003. In October of 2004, the law society was provided with information confirming that there had been a number of photos of Ms. Douglas on a website. The law society also had a general description of the content of the photos. The law society did not see or have copies of the photos or information describing the content of each specific photo.
The law society was aware when contacted by the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs that photos of Ms. Douglas had been placed on a website by her husband without her knowledge or consent. At that time the law society understood that the photos had been removed from the website and that any copies had been destroyed.
When and how did you first become aware that Alex Chapman was paid $25,000 not to take any actions against Jack King and his partners?
In 2003, the law society was aware that the client had retained a lawyer to seek compensation from Mr. King and that he had in fact been compensated to his satisfaction. We did not know the specific details. We knew that he had obtained the right to complain to the law society in future if he chose. In October of 2004 the law society learned the details of the financial settlement, including the amount.