POLITICS

Lawyer took up to 150 explicit photos of wife before she became Manitoba judge

07/23/2012 12:34 EDT | Updated 09/22/2012 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - Slowly, deliberately, and with a pained expression on his face, Jack King testified Monday about how he liked to take sexually explicit photos of his wife, who is now a Manitoba judge at risk of losing her job.

"I think it was around 100 to 150 (photographs)," King told a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry.

"A lot of it was weather-related. If it was warm outside, if it was sunny outside, one could be outside naked."

King, a lawyer, has already admitted to posting sexually explicit photos of his wife, Lori Douglas, online and harassing a former client named Alexander Chapman to have sex with her.

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

Douglas faces a much steeper penalty. The inquiry panel could recommend that she be removed from the bench. The final decision would rest with the federal Justice minister.

King and Douglas have maintained that King acted without Douglas's knowledge — that she didn't know that King uploaded photos of her, some of which show her in bondage gear or performing sex acts, in 2003. At the time, King and Douglas were partners in the same law firm and King was Chapman's divorce lawyer.

King testified Monday that Douglas may not have even known that he kept the photos, many which were taken with a Polaroid instant camera as she lay sprawled on the couple's bed. As he took the snapshots, King would set them aside and later put them in an envelope at the bottom of his sock drawer, he said.

"I did not tell her that they were there. I deduced that she did not know that they were there."

King's testimony in the coming days is expected to mirror his statement at his disciplinary hearing last year, when he called his own behaviour "disgraceful" and said he could never apologize enough to his wife.

Soon after Chapman received the raunchy photos from King, Chapman threatened to sue King for harassment. Within weeks, Chapman settled for a $25,000 payment from King and, in exchange, agreed to return all the photos and never discuss the matter publicly. Chapman broke that deal and went public in 2010, saying he was still suffering.

King took months off work in 2003 and was treated for depression. He now walks with a cane and, during his brief testimony Monday afternoon, looked out into the courtroom's public gallery with a mournful expression on his face.

Douglas is facing four allegations:

— that she sexually harassed Chapman;

— that she failed to disclose the issue when she was screened for a judicial appointment in 2005;

— that she didn't fully disclose some facts to the inquiry and changed a 2003 entry in her personal diary in 2010;

— that the photos have undermined confidence in the justice system and her ability to act as a judge.

Through her lawyer, Douglas has denied all the allegations. She is expected to testify as early as the end of this week. Douglas and King, who have one child together, have remained married despite Douglas's anger at the matter.

Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, has asked the inquiry panel not to penalize Douglas for her husband's betrayal.

"A wife is not responsible for, is not to be tarred with the brush of, her husband's misdeeds,'' Block said during opening arguments last month.

In other testimony Monday, questions were raised about why Chapman only went after King in 2003, and waited seven years before filing a complaint against Douglas. Ian Histed, a former lawyer for Chapman, testified Chapman only decided to go after the judge after being unhappy with an unrelated lawsuit against Winnipeg police.

"Mr. Chapman ... was very discouraged about the administration of justice in Manitoba," Histed told the inquiry.

"He was going to spill the beans, as it were."