Judge's husband calls her 'victim' in sex scandal

The husband of a Manitoba judge under investigation at a judicial inquiry said he borrowed $25,000 from his wife to pay off a man to keep quiet about a sexual harassment complaint.
Jack King takes a break Tuesday from answering questions at a judicial inquiry probing his wife, Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench in Manitoba. (CBC)

The husband of a Manitoba judge under investigation at a judicial inquiry said he borrowed $25,000 from his wife to pay off a man to keep quiet about a sexual harassment complaint.

Jack King said he and his wife, Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas, never discussed in detail his communications with Alex Chapman, or the racy naked photos of Douglas that King had posted on the internet.

King said he did tell Douglas that he solicited Chapman to have sex with her, and had provided some nude photos of her to him. He said he told Douglas in June 2003, after Chapman asked King's legal firm to pay $100,000 for his silence on the allegations.

Both King and Douglas worked at the firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman at the time.

A confidentiality agreement was reached, with King paying Chapman $25,000 on the condition he return all photos and never publicly discuss what had happened.

However, Chapman went public in 2010 with accusations of being sexually harassed by Douglas and King, prompting the current inquiry in Winnipeg by the Canadian Judicial Council.

Chapman was under intense scrutiny as the inquiry heard his testimony last week.

Lori Douglas, an associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, has denied sexually harassing Alex Chapman. (CBC)

King, who began testifying last Friday, right after Chapman was finished, has told the inquiry that Douglas was never involved in his plan to seek out sexual partners.

He has said he posted pictures to the porn website Dark Cavern, which is designed to arrange interracial sexual encounters. King posted the some 35 pictures in a section called wives and black lovers.

King told the inquiry Tuesday that his behaviour was "bizarre" and "grotesque."

But he says Douglas knew nothing about his actions and was devastated when the scandal erupted in 2003.

Chapman's lawyer, Rocco Galati, challenged King during a cross-examination, telling King his evidence was worthless and that he was an unreliable witness who lied about Douglas not being involved in harassing Chapman.

King insisted, repeating several times that he had not lied to the inquiry, that he has told the truth as far as he can recollect it.

He insisted, "My wife did not know what I was doing" until he told her in June 2003. 

Removal from bench

The CJC is examining whether Douglas should be removed from the bench over the online photos and over allegations she was involved in King's solicitation of Chapman.

The council will also investigate whether Douglas should have disclosed the story when she was applying to be a judge.

She was appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench (family division) in 2005, and later promoted to associate chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench (family division) in 2009.

Alex Chapman's complaint against Justice Lori Douglas and her husband Jack King led to the Canadian Judicial Council's inquiry into her conduct. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

During the application process to become a judge, one of the screening questions asks applicants whether there is anything in their background that would negatively affect the judiciary.

Douglas answered "no" on her application.

In a statement filed by her lawyers in early June, Douglas said she answered that way because people already knew, including the chief justice of Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench.

She also said she believed the photos had been removed, as per the confidentiality agreement, and the matter resolved.

Douglas, who has yet to testify, has denied any wrongdoing and said she should not be penalized for her husband's actions, which she called "acts of unimaginable betrayal, in pursuit of a mad and undisclosed fantasy."

Scandal 'well known'

On Wednesday, King said that once the scandal broke, it was "reasonably well known" in the legal community

He testified other lawyers had come to him in 2003 and 2004 to talk about the controversy — a year or more before Douglas was appointed a judge.

"I was told by some of my friends … that they were hearing from people versions of events, sometimes quite lurid," King said. "The scandal was out there. I was the perpetrator, she was the victim."

King faced questions from the lawyer leading the inquiry about whether the story had been watered down.

Guy Pratte pointed to correspondence between the Law Society of Manitoba and King in 2005, when King had resumed practising law following a mental breakdown after the initial scandal.

When King was asked for details about the controversy, his lawyer, Bill Gange, replied by letter, telling the law society about the harassment of Chapman without mentioning the nude photos of Douglas.

The letter also said King, Chapman and Douglas had only met once, when they had met twice briefly for drinks.

"Your lawyer had chosen not to tell the full story," Pratte fired at King on Wednesday.

King replied he could not answer for Gange, but that not mentioning the explicit photos was an attempt to respect Douglas's privacy.

"I think it shows a certain delicacy on his part," King said.

Documents filed with the inquiry last month have also raised questions about whether officials knew in 2005 that explicit photos of Douglas had been on the internet.

A journal entry listed from François Giroux, an adviser to then federal justice minister Irwin Cotler, does not mention the sexually explicit photos. But it does mention the harassment claim.  It also seems to note that the story, at least in broad strokes, was well-known in the legal community.

"Husband, let go from the same firm as Mrs. Douglas. Allegations of mental health troubles," the journal entry, handwritten in French, says. "Offered to a client the services of his wife without her knowledge. Mrs. stayed with. Made the round of the profession.

"Situation resolved. Counselling, psychological."

King pleaded guilty to professional misconduct last year for harassing Chapman and was ordered to pay the Law Society of Manitoba $13,650, but retains his licence to practise law.

The Douglas inquiry is way behind schedule and will decide Wednesday how to handle it. It is scheduled to end Friday, but only four witnesses have testified and 10 others remain. The panel will decide whether it will continue to hear arguments in September or possibly even November.

With files from The Canadian Press