POLITICS

Manitoba judge, under investigation for nude photos, says she is the victim

06/14/2012 06:06 EDT | Updated 08/14/2012 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge being investigated over sexually explicit photos says she is the victim of an "unimaginable betrayal" by her husband and a despicable scheme by her accuser.

Through documents filed by her lawyer and released Thursday, Justice Lori Douglas is speaking out for the first time since a scandal broke over Internet photos of her nude, in bondage gear and performing sex acts.

Douglas "has been the victim of wrongdoing," lawyer Sheila Block wrote in a nine-page document submitted to the Canadian Judicial Council.

"Her husband, in acts of unimaginable betrayal, in a pursuit of a mad and undisclosed fantasy, solicited (Alexander) Chapman to have sex with then-Ms. Douglas."

Douglas is under investigation by a panel of the judicial council, and could be removed from the bench. The documents released Thursday are a reply to the allegations against her.

Chapman came forward in 2010 with claims of being the target of a strange sexual plan seven years earlier. He claimed his divorce lawyer, Jack King, had given him nude photos of King's wife, Lori Douglas, and had asked him to have sex with her. Douglas was a lawyer at the time, and later became a judge and rose to the position of associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, heading up the family court division.

King admitted in March of last year that he solicited Chapman to have sex with his wife and gave him the explicit photos. He also admitted that he arranged two meetings at a bar between himself, his wife and Chapman.

However, King said he acted without his wife's knowledge and all parties have agreed that Chapman never had sex with Douglas.

At one point, King paid Chapman $25,000 in exchange for returning the photos and promising to not talk about what happened. Chapman came forward seven years later, saying he could not keep silent any longer.

The judicial council hearings are scheduled to start June 25. Douglas has not been hearing cases pending the outcome of the probe.

In the documents released Thursday, Douglas's lawyer says Douglas had no knowledge of her husband's actions until after the fact and assumed all photos were destroyed.

"Douglas ... has been faced with tremendous embarrassment and humiliation as her bench, the bar and members of the public have been presented with one-sided, distorted accounts of the events relevant to the complaints against her," Block wrote.

She criticizes Chapman's motives for coming forward.

"Chapman was a willing participant in this despicable scheme, looking to use it as a way of securing a large payment," the document reads.

The documents also make clear, for the first time, the allegations against Douglas. She faces four accusations, all of which she firmly denies:

— the sexual harassment of Chapman.

— the failure to disclose the issue to the committee that screened her when she was nominated as a judge.

— the failure to fully disclose facts to the independent counsel leading the looming inquiry.

— no longer having the capacity to be a judge due to the public availability of the photos.

Douglas's lawyer says Douglas was up front about all matters. She says the appointments commitee that screens new judges was aware of the photos, and while the chief justice initially objected, he later changed his mind.

"(The chief justice) was concerned that the existence of them and the presence on the Internet posted too great a risk of blackmail and therefore did not support Ms. Douglas' candidacy," Block wrote.

"He maintained this objection until the late fall of 2004. By that time, sufficient time had passed with nothing having surfaced regarding the pictures that the chief justice no longer opposed the application."

She also says it is King and Chapman that distributed the photos and have caused the public scandal, not Douglas.

"Right-thinking people do not conclude that a woman who has been victimized by her husband is to blame for her husband's conduct and accordingly lacks integrity or is not suitable to sit as a judge."

King has already been punished over the scandal.

He was reprimanded by the Law Society of Manitoba for professional misconduct and ordered to pay $14,000 to cover the society's prosecution costs. However, he still retains his licence to practice law.