Judge knew 'nothing' about alleged sex offer, inquiry hears

The husband of Manitoba Justice Lori Douglas had said his wife knew "basically nothing" about his dealings with a man who has accused them of sexual harassment, according to a partner at their former law firm.
Jack King's, former law partner testfied at the inquiry involving King's wife Justice Lori Douglas, saying that King had originally denied all allegations of sexual assault. (CBC)

The husband of Manitoba Justice Lori Douglas had said his wife knew "basically nothing" about his dealings with a man who has accused them of sexual harassment, according to a partner at their former law firm.

Michael Sinclair, former managing partner with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, the firm where Douglas and King used to work, said that that on June 9. 2003 he found out about the harassment issue involving Alex Chapman through a letter sent by Chapman’s lawyer.

Sinclair went to speak with King, who he says was "calm" but a little "startled" and then denied all claims of sexual harassment towards Chapman.

Chapman alleges that King sent Chapman nude photos of his wife and attempted to arrange a sexual encounter between him and Douglas.

Sinclair testified Friday that two days later, he and another partner at the firm went to visit Chapman’s lawyer, Ian Histed, who then gave them copies of emails and photos about Douglas.

Sinclair said he went and asked King about the nude photos of his wife and that according to King, Douglas knew "basically nothing" about the situation.

When Sinclair met with Douglas he said his impression was that she was not aware of the correspondence between Chapman and her husband.

King had worked as Chapman’s lawyer for his divorce. King said that the photos and emails did not happen until after he was finished representing Chapman, according to Sinclair.

Rocco Galati, Chapman’s lawyer, asked Sinclair during cross-examination Friday whether he thought about the impact on Chapman — who was their client at the time.

Sinclair replied that what he was thinking about was the fact that Chapman had asked his firm to pay him $100,000 for his silence on the allegations.

Sinclair said that the firm considered reporting King to the law society but he did not think it was necessary, adding that there are only two instances when that would be appropriate: when the lawyer embezzles money from the client or when the lawyer is a danger to the public.

However, he said that he did instruct King to stop speaking with Chapman.

King already pleaded guilty in March 2011 to professional misconduct charges at a hearing by the Manitoba Law Society where he was then ordered to pay approximately $13,000 in costs.

King was expected to testify Friday but now will not speak until next week, which may extend the inquiry beyond the projected two-week schedule.

The inquiry had hoped to get through five witnesses this week. Chapman’s testimony alone took four days and on Friday Sinclair was expected to testify for one hour but spoke well into the afternoon.

Objection to computer as evidence

Alex Chapman, the man who accused Douglas and King of sexual harassment, was also under intense scrutiny as the inquiry heard his testimony over the last four days.

On Wednesday Sheila Block, the lawyer representing Douglas, quoted passages from Chapman’s day planner and tried to suggest the man had agreed to having sex with the Manitoba judge.

Block also attempted to put forth evidence from Chapman’s computer on Thursday, detailing his sex life.

Rocco Galati, Chapman’s lawyer, as well as the inquiry’s independent counsel, objected to the material being submitted. Galati argued that he should then have the right to examine Douglas’s sex life as well.

The inquiry panel decided on Thursday that the material from Chapman’s computer would not be submitted[