POLITICS

Husband of Manitoba judge under scrutiny for nude photos says he was stupid

07/24/2012 12:23 EDT | Updated 09/23/2012 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge under investigation for alleged sexual harassment was unaware that sexually explicit photos of her were on the Internet, occasionally accompanied by personal ads seeking group sex, her husband testified Tuesday.

"She had no idea until the middle of June 2003 that I had posted any pictures on the Internet," Jack King told the Canadian Judicial Council inquiry, now into its second week of hearings.

"It was essentially in pursuit of some absolutely bizarre sexual behaviour on my part."

King, a lawyer, has already admitted to taking 100 to 150 nude photos of Lori Douglas before she became a judge, some of them showing her in bondage gear or performing sex acts. King used the photos in 2003 to harass a former client named Alexander Chapman and asked him in conversations and emails to have sex with his wife.

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. She was appointed a judge in 2005 and rose to become associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench.

But King and Douglas have maintained all along that Douglas never knew what her husband was doing until the matter blew up in 2003. That's when Chapman complained to the law firm where King and Douglas both worked and King paid Chapman $25,000 to settle the matter and keep quiet.

In 2010, Chapman went public and filed a complaint against Douglas with the judicial council, alleging she was part of the harassment.

King testified Tuesday that Douglas knew nothing of his actions. He was secretly engaging in behaviour that he described as "bizarre, ridiculous, stupid, self-indulgent, grotesque and so on."

King took the explicit photos of Douglas between 1996 and 2003. Some were on an instant camera in the couple's bedroom, some were taken outdoors with a digital camera and some were taken with a 35-mm camera that required negatives to be developed at an acquaintance's house, he said.

Douglas was a willing participant in the photography, but never asked to look at the photos or even inquire as to whether they were being kept or destroyed, King said.

"I don't believe she ever put her mind to it. She never asked me any questions at all about it."

In 2002, King uploaded about 30 of the photos to a website dedicated to interracial sex. The photos were accompanied by messages which said the couple was looking for group sex.

King again said it was all him, and Douglas knew nothing.

"I had a fantasy about a threesome of an interracial nature," King said, adding that he did not get any responses to the ad.

The lawyer leading the inquiry, Guy Pratte, questioned King as to whether Douglas was truly uninvolved. He pointed out the online messages used the term "we."

"Anyone reading either one of those ads ... would have the understanding that your wife was consenting," Pratte said.

"No. She did not," King replied.

Pratte also pointed out that in a court affidavit, King had said the photos were intended for "our private use," and asked King whether that was a sign that Douglas was aware that he had kept the photos.

No, King replied, the affidavit was poorly worded.

"I was careless, essentially, in proofreading this," he said.

In July 2003, King went to lunch with Douglas and told her what he had done.

"She was absolutely distraught and horrified. The anger came later," King said.

"She was devastated and, frankly, so was I."

Douglas soon became concerned that the photos could wipe out any chance she had of becoming a judge. She had first applied in 1999 and had submitted a second application in 2003.

"There were times when she expressed that the scandal may have had an impact on her chances," King said. He added that the couple did not discuss it much because "I didn't want to be reminded in any way of that."

In November 2003, Douglas met with Associate Chief Justice Gerald Mercier and apparently discussed the scandal and her chances of becoming a judge.

"Had meeting with Gerry Mercier. Felt like I'd run a marathon," Douglas wrote in her diary, which is being used as evidence at the inquiry.

"Frankly, had had to reconcile myself that there is simply no chance. I hope I can really forgive Jack."

The inquiry is examining four allegations against Douglas:

— 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.