Ex-immigration judge guilty of breach of trust
Ex-immigration board judge Steve Ellis has been convicted in a Toronto court of trying to use his position to obtain sexual favours from a refugee claimant.
Ellis was convicted Wednesday of breach of trust and bribery. The bribery charge was brought under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Ellis, 50, hinted in secretly taped conversations with Ji-Hye Kim that he would consider approving her refugee claim if the 25-year-old Korean woman became sexually involved with him.
Justice Thea Herman accepted the Crown's version of events and found Ellis guilty on both charges.
Ellis, a former Toronto city councillor, was appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2000.
Kim and her husband Brad Tripp, who was her boyfriend at the time, secretly recorded a September 2006 meeting between Ellis and Kim at a Toronto coffee shop.
In the video, which was played in court, Ellis is seen telling Kim, "If we do things on the side, that's OK."
He can be heard telling Kim he was close to denying her application, but that he wanted to help her because he hoped to be "friends."
He then says his marriage is "terrible" and he needs a girlfriend.
Asked if Kim could keep secrets
Ellis also asks if she is good at keeping secrets because if it were to come out that he "did this for improper purposes" she would be in trouble too.
Ellis made two trips to visit Kim at her workplace.
At one point, Ellis told Kim he was in a loveless marriage.
"I know you've got a boyfriend. I've got a wife, so I mean, if we do things together on the side that's OK. That's fine," he says on the videotape.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to be demanding ... I'm not going to fall in love with you."
On Wednesday outside the courtroom with Trip, Kim said she was relieved at the verdict.
"I'm very happy with the results," she said. Trip said he was proud of his wife.
"She's been very strong," he said. "Imagine leaving your home country, coming to Canada and being faced with this."
Ellis's lawyer argued his client may have behaved badly but never demanded sex in exchange for a favourable judgment on Kim's refugee status.
Crown prosecutor Linda Trefler said the decision was another lesson that no one is above the law.
"This is just an example of the law being applied equally to everyone regardless of his or her position," said Trefler.
Ellis walked out of the courtroom with his lawyer looking upset. His lawyer said they were both disappointed with the results.
"We'll be looking at it and considering our options," said John Rosen.
Kim, now a landed immigrant, was seeking asylum in Canada because of a physically abusive father and threats from money lenders in South Korea.
Ellis was suspended from his job after the charges were laid. His lawyer confirmed Wednesday he is no longer an immigration judge. CBC's Michelle Chunge reported that Ellis was fired.
He will be sentenced on June 4. Both offences carry maximum sentences of five years.
With files from The Canadian Press