Naked photographs of a senior Manitoba judge engaged in bondage are part of a man's complaints to legal watchdogs about the judge's past and that of her husband, CBC News has learned.
A formal complaint was filed in July with the Canadian Judicial Council against Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division). Another complaint has been lodged with Manitoba's Law Society against Douglas's husband, Jack King, 64, a Winnipeg family lawyer.
The complainant, computer specialist Alexander Chapman, 44, alleges that King harassed him in 2003 by pressing him to have sex with Douglas, who was a lawyer at the time.
Over several weeks, Chapman said King showed him about 30 sexually explicit photos of Douglas, showing her naked in various forms of bondage, in chains, with sex toys and performing oral sex.
We recognize that in reporting stories, harm can be one of the consequences. But we are guided by the principle that important stories in the public interest must be told, and in doing so we make our best efforts to minimize any harm that might ensue.
Read more about our decision to publish this story.
Chapman said he became so bothered by King's overtures that he began sleeping at his St. Mary Avenue office, pretending he was too busy with work to meet Douglas.
King's lawyer, Bill Gange, said King was suffering from depression at the time and didn't tell his wife that he had shown the pictures to anyone — or that he had posted the photos on a porn website.
An Ottawa legal expert said that even if Douglas, who was appointed a judge in 2005, was the unwitting victim of a scheme, the presence of the photos on the internet raises issues about her ability to perform as a judge.
"If pictures of you naked end up on an internet site, it's quite difficult to say you have the credibility to be a judge," said Sébastien Grammond, dean of civil law at the University of Ottawa.
Grammond said a judge ultimately represents the ideal of justice and therefore the judge's conduct and image reflect on the justice system as a whole. The judge is, in a sense, the embodiment of the justice system, something the Supreme Court has noted in a past judgment.
Grammond doubts that Douglas would have been appointed a judge if she had disclosed the fact that there were nude photographs of her on the internet in her application.
There is a question in the application that asks, "Is there anything in your past or present which could reflect negatively on yourself or the judiciary and which should be disclosed?"
"I think the facts are sufficiently suspect to warrant disclosure and to raise very important questions as to whether such a person should have been appointed a judge," Grammond said.
Douglas has refused to comment to CBC News on the allegations.
Chapman said he first met Douglas's husband, Jack King, in 2002, when he retained him from the Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman to handle his divorce.
Five months later, Chapman said King invited him out for a drink and mentioned a porn website devoted to interracial sex, particularly between black men and white women.
"He was talking to me about websites and stuff, and … he gave me a website to go to called Darkcavern.com," said Chapman, who is black and originally from Trinidad.
King supplied him with a password, Chapman said, and told him to look at a section called "Our White Princesses," where white women post photos to attract black men. Numerous nude photos of King's wife, who was a lawyer at the same firm her husband worked at, were posted there, Chapman said.
"I wanted to puke," Chapman said. "[The pictures] were disgusting. I couldn't believe my lawyer was doing this to me."
It apparently wasn't the first time King sought out a black man to have sex with his wife. An ad on the Darkcavern site, seen by CBC News, shows nude photos of Douglas and seeks a "smooth black male or Mexican" to join the couple during a trip to Cancun in February 2002.
The ad specifies that the man is wanted "to seduce her with the intent of getting her enmeshed in the submissive, multi-partner, interracial sex scene."
"Husband will help and facilitate," it goes on to say.
Photos of Douglas have since been removed from the Darkcavern site.
'He looked at me as being a sex object'
Over the next few weeks, Chapman said King sent him more pictures of his wife and continued to encourage him to engage in a sexual relationship with her.
Ethics and legality
CBC News presented some of the key facts of this story to a number of law and ethics experts across Canada, without revealing the identities of those involved. Here is a sampling of their opinions:
Prof. Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, says the story raises questions about the responsibility of all the lawyers involved.
If a member of the legal community were to pose for risqué pictures, even in the privacy of their own home, it would be "wildly imprudent and reckless" behaviour for a lawyer, nevermind for a potential or future judge.
Schafer says if someone disclosed this to the committee vetting an application, "it is inconceivable that a lawyer who discloses this would become a judge." If no disclosure was made, that would also be problematic.
In either case, there are public interest questions raised that need to be answered, he said.
Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says in circumstances like these, it is important for judicial candidates to disclose all relevant information beforehand. If pictures have appeared online, it raises serious questions.
"In spite of the fact that it's obviously private — and judges still do have the right to a private life — that kind of picture when it's public, and that kind of information when public, I think it would clearly bring the judicial system or the administration of justice in question, or at least in some people's mind diminish the court's image."
Alice Woolley, associate law professor at the University of Calgary, said: "What you do in your bedroom is your business, regardless of whether or not you're a judge."
But because these pictures went on the internet, it takes it to a whole new realm, Woolley said. If a prospective judge had been involved in such a situation, it would be inappropriate based on our current norms of judging. The applicant would have to disclose it on their application.
"That person ought to have known that having been in that position they weren't an appropriate candidate for a Superior Court appointment," said Annalise Acorn, a law and ethics professor at the University of Alberta.
"I don't think that a person would have the authority to judge others, to send people to jail, to award high amounts of money in damage awards when they had that kind of compromising materials about themselves out in the public sphere," she said, stressing that it doesn't matter whether the individual put them in the public sphere themselves or not.
Chapman said he was emotionally distraught by the advances and didn't know how to handle his lawyer's persistent proposals. "As a black person, a black guy, I'm really sad that he looked at me as being a sex object."
He said he didn't have enough money to switch lawyers and had been warned by a judge not to delay his divorce case any further.
As Chapman's divorce was wrapping up, he said he eventually agreed to meet King and his wife at a Winnipeg restaurant, fearing his lawyer would not properly represent him if he didn't comply. King left Chapman alone with Douglas, and they chatted, according to Chapman's July 14, 2010, complaint to the Manitoba Law Society. In his complaint, Chapman described the meeting as feeling like "a first date."
Chapman said the couple invited him to their home in Birds Hill, northeast of Winnipeg, but he never went and he denies ever having sexual relations with Douglas.
When his divorce concluded, Chapman said he filed a complaint to the managing partners at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. Soon after the complaint, King left the firm.
Chapman decides to come forward
Chapman received a $25,000 cash payment from King in return for promises not to take legal action against King and his partners. As part of the settlement, Chapman said he was required to not speak about the matter and to destroy all emails, photos and other materials sent to him by King. He said he signed, but kept the material.
After seven years of silence, however, Chapman decided to come forward, saying he felt distraught about the matter for a long time and worried it may have influence in civil court cases he's involved in, which is related to the divorce he obtained in 2003. CBC News has seen no evidence of such influence.
Chapman said he plans to sue both Douglas and King for sexual harassment and discrimination.
"I decided I'm tired of protecting Lori Douglas, Jack King and all these people in a legal field who conduct themselves inappropriately and get away with it," Chapman said.
Douglas unaware of posting: lawyer
Gange, King's lawyer, citing King's depression at the time, said the events Chapman alleges were part of an isolated incident and that King's wife didn't know he was soliciting a client to have sex with her. Gange said Douglas also was unaware her husband was posting pictures online.
Gange told CBC News King took time off work on a sick leave after his interaction with Chapman, and was put under the care of a doctor. Gange said King's behaviour at the time is not in any way consistent with his behaviour before or since.
King, in a letter to the Manitoba Law Society, acknowledged that he did meet and talk about sex with Chapman, but only after Chapman obtained his divorce in April 2003. He said Chapman would often initiate the conversations.
"At no time did I have an impression that Mr. Chapman felt uncomfortable having these discussions with me," King wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 12, 2010.
He acknowledged that he talked about the possibility of Chapman having an affair with Douglas, but denied that she had knowledge of it.
"I do regret that I had any conversations or any contact at all with Mr. Chapman that did not relate strictly to his divorce issues," he said. "I apologized to Mr. Chapman through Mr. Gange upon being advised that my conduct had offended Mr. Chapman."
He said he was coping with the deaths of his best friend and his brother at the time.
A spokesperson for Thompson Dorfman Sweatman said King quit the firm after the alleged incident on the advice of his doctor.
Douglas remained a partner at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman until 2005, when she was appointed to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. She was later named associate chief justice and now sits on the Canadian Judicial Council, an agency that sets policies for the federal judicial system.
The council is the same agency that hears complaints about the conduct of federally appointed judges, and the same agency Chapman sent his complaint to.
Because Douglas is a judge, the council is the only professional body that can hear a complaint against her.
A Canadian Judicial Council complaint investigation typically takes three months.
A federally appointed judge can only be removed upon order of Parliament.