At the end of August, 2010, beginning of September, Canadian media broke the story of a senior Manitoba judge involved in a sex scandal. While the air still remains to be cleared; there can be no doubt that this judge has found herself smack-dab centre stage in the middle of public opinion.
Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division) had a formal complaint filed against her with the Canadian Judicial Council and her husband Jack King, 64, a Winnipeg lawyer still has a complaint lodged against him with Manitoba's Law Society.
According to the story, a computer specialist Alexander Chapman, 44 has alleged that King harassed him in 2003 by pressing him to have sex with Douglas who was only a lawyer at that time. Apparently, King showed Chapman sexually explicit photos of Douglas engaged in various sex acts including forms of bondage, in chains, with sex toys and performing oral sex. King's lawyer has said that King did not tell his wife he had shown the photos to anyone or that he went so far as to post the photos on a porn website.
An Ottawa legal expert, Sébastien Grammond, dean of civil law at the University of Ottawa has said this incident raises issues about Lori Douglas's ability to perform as a judge. Even if it is proven that Douglas is the unwitting victim of some sort of scheme, her credibility has been damaged if not destroyed. Grammond went on to explain how a judge represents the legal system and the conduct and image of a judge reflects on the justice system as a whole. He doubts that Douglas would have ever been appointed a judge if it was known that nude photos of her existed on the Internet.
Sex, still the ultimate sin
As I read over the various articles about this story, I was reminded how sex more than just about anything else has the ability of instantaneously transform the innocent into the guilty, of elevating the minor to the major and ruining a career and destroying a reputation faster than you can blink an eye. If I say "Bill Clinton", does anybody remember him with an approval rating of 73%? Does anybody remember anything he did as president? No and that is an emphatic no. We all remember just two words: Monica Lewinsky. No matter what he did as president, no matter what he's done since and let's not forget that this includes charitable work, work in the political arena as a world stage negotiator and a public speaker, we will never manage to erase the white spot on the blue dress.
This comic fictional character created and portrayed by actor Paul Reubens rose to the pinnacle of fame with Pee-wee's Playhouse, an Emmy Award winning children's series on CBS. In 1991, the actor, Paul Reubens was arrested by police for masturbating in an adult theatre. Both the actor Reubens and the character Pee-wee became the subject of ridicule. CBS dropped the show; Walt Disney severed all ties; Toys-R-Us removed Pee-wee toys from its stores. Paul Reubens went into hiding.
I have to think about this. Paul Reubens made a mistake; he used poor judgement. He was merely doing what just about all of us do. Nevertheless, his infraction was elevated in the eyes of the public to a crime of biblical proportions and he had to pay with his career and his reputation. It almost seems like being sentenced to death for littering. You go to a movie theatre to watch a pornographic film, a type of film designed to sexually arouse you but you get arrested if you try to do something about it. If the movie showed a nice juicy steak and you started to drool while feeling peckish, you could at least eat your popcorn. Somehow there's something odd in all this and I come back to being sentenced to death for littering: the punishment far outweighs the crime.
Sex is Dirty
Is it no wonder that we grow up with this idea that sex is dirty? That sex is something which must remain hidden; can only be performed behind closed doors and for gawd's sake; be careful with whom you discuss it? Talk about it; admit to it and your name is mud. Tilt; game over.
Ah, I can hear you say, "But these stories involve something bad being done, possibly criminal activity." We could argue about whether it's bad or criminal but the point is how the connection to sex remains indelibly engraved on our memory. Even if we are not personally involved, there can be an associated sense of apprehension if not fear about anything relating to sex.
When the Monica Lewinsky affair hit the papers, there seemed to no limit to the amount of column space dedicated to reviewing in detail every aspect of the case. Bill was impeached for lying. "Ha, ha, ha!" you say? Does anybody enjoy getting caught with their pants down? Does anybody enjoy being put on public display? Does anybody enjoy the most intimate details of their life especially their sexual life being dissected and analysed in the media?
Yes, I know, these people did something wrong. Fine, I got it. But what is the one difference between these people and us? Simple, our peccadilloes have not hit the headlines.
Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right.
- Woody Allen: from the film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972)
Can we talk?
The tag line of Joan Rivers: can we talk? Good question. The answer lies very much in whether or not we can break free of our puritanical shackles and whether we can support the potential ridicule of those who do not take kindly to our displays openness and honesty. One bitten, twice shy? Openness and honesty are great but there are risks in that not everybody is going to subscribe to the same policy. We may inadvertently bring down on our head scorn and shame. It makes you think twice before opening your mouth.
An episode of this American television sitcom comes to mind. One of the main characters, Dan, has suffered some erectile dysfunction on a date. Worried sick about not having been able to "get it up", he confides to the various other male characters. One by one each man listens with a great deal of sympathy telling him that it's nothing to worry about. At this point of his conversation with each of his colleagues, Dan asks if the other man has ever had this happen to him. Each male character replies by exclaiming in an indignant tone, "Who me? No way!"
This is all done to be funny but exemplifies the current state of affairs. Don't forget how much humour can come out of merely repeating what we all know to be true. We don't talk about sex; it's taboo, dirty, stuff to snicker about behind closed doors. - Of course, this episode of Night Court also makes fun of us men as supposedly being supermen, men who never fail, who are always "up to the job". But that will be another article.
These "dirty" people are the exception to the rule
Hmm, are they? In my blog Anonymity: The power to speak freely, I write about how we are very much influenced or pressured by the people around us, by the world around us, by "real life" and that we probably have no idea of what "really" is going on.
My father had read an article in Reader's Digest in which the author made the statement that one in four Canadian families have experienced some sort of domestic abuse. During a walk around the neighbourhood, he ran into a neighbour, a family doctor to whom he talked about the article and his surprise in thinking that a statistic of 25% would mean that such a thing is going on in the neighbourhood. The doctor replied, "Oh I assure you, I know it's going on in this neighbourhood." The point is, do we really know?
This gentleman has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. Now there's a position which elicits a certain degree of respect and honour and trustworthiness.
During his confirmation hearings, it came out that one woman Anita Hill alleged that Thomas subjected her to comments of a sexual nature; behaviour she felt was inappropriate if not quite illegal sexual harassment. A second woman alleged the same thing.
Thomas got off but I knew he was guilty. I've seen this behaviour; I've heard the suggestive comments and being a guy myself, I know exactly what this all about. See my blog Sex: Men Are From Mars
The point is that we have a respected member of society showing his... naughty side. Would you have guessed?
How many "dirty" people are there?
Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. Somebody's got to be looking at that stuff. But that is at the far end of the spectrum; we can tone it down a notch or two and our net starts encompassing an even broader segment of the population.
Go to Google and type in "rate my". Rate my teacher, rate my car, rate my puppy (cute), rate my parking, rate my mullet (what?), "normal" stuff, eh? How about rate my picture, rate my bottom, rate my chest, rate my rack, rate my body, and rate my ex-girlfriend? Who are these people? Who's posting the pictures? Who's looking at them?
Let's kick it up a notch. TangoTime which started several years ago as a fairly tame web site devoted to the posting and rating of normal pictures has grown into a site of everyday people posting sexually explicit photos of themselves. Let me repeat "everyday people" posting pictures, not professional models or porn stars, just everyday people. Gosh, it could be Lori Douglas and her husband Jack King. Or it could be your neighbours.
I can add to all this the term "sexting", the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. Let's not forget virtual worlds of MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) like Second Life or Red Light Center, even World of Warcraft where participants can create an avatar representing them and engage in activities which span the gamut of everything one can do in real life... er, or can't do in real life.
Back in the early 90's, I was watching one of the talk shows, not quite as elevated as Oprah but not as low as Jerry Springer. A couple is being interviewed but we're given to understand they have a secret. Commercial break. We return to see... two women. I look closer. Woman number two is the husband; he's dressed up in drag. The wife explains that her husband has always had a fetish for women's clothes and once a month he dresses up and the 2 of them go out together as 2 women. She goes on to say that her husband is a wonderful man, a great husband, a good lover and an excellent father; he just seems to have this one special quirk and it is the only oddity out of an otherwise exemplary human being.
First of all, that is quite the example of a woman's love for her man and her acceptance of him. But secondly, do we ever really know what's next door? Who's next door?
On the one hand, our society seems to have a puritanical streak, the link to our past and our traditions which are very much based on religion; on the other we have what is going on behind closed doors and which in some cases spills over into public life as in posting pictures on-line.
Lori Douglas dressed up in bondage leather and performing oral sex? Well, that's not something she would necessarily want published as the front page headline of every national newspaper in country but it would seem to me from the above various examples that her behaviour is not as "uncommon" as one may think.
Will Lori Douglas survive? I repeat what the legal expert, Grammond said. Even if it is proven that Douglas is the unwitting victim of some sort of scheme, her credibility has been damaged if not destroyed. ... A judge represents the legal system and the conduct and image of a judge reflects on the justice system as a whole. Grammond doubts that Douglas would have ever been appointed a judge if it was known that nude photos of her existed on the Internet.
Clarence Thomas went on to serve well. Bill Clinton was a good president and continues to be a good world statesman. Paul Reubens is back and I've been given to understand, so is Pee-wee. Is Lori Douglas any less of a judge? Only her peers and time will tell.
I quote the Toronto Star from an article published on September 1, 2010:
The Canadian Judicial Council’s Ethical Principles for Judges — which judges are encouraged but not required to follow — say they should strive to conduct themselves with integrity and avoid conduct that would diminish public respect for the judiciary.
Can someone who poses naked with a whip be considered a person of integrity, or does the question open the door to inappropriate moral judgments about an individual’s personal life?
While Chapman did drop his suit against Douglas on September 21, he still has an outstanding complaint of sexual harassment against Douglas filed with the Canadian Judicial Council and he is still going to pursue lawsuits against King and King's firm. Originally, when the story broke, it was reported that the Council would take 3 months to review these charges. As such, Douglas must still run the gauntlet before finding out if she's still in hot water or free and clear.
But will she ever be free and clear? No matter what happens, nobody is ever going to erase the headlines splashed all across Canada. We have all read the stories and I'm sure there are many copies of these supposed racy photos floating around in cyberspace. Nevertheless, she can remain hopeful. Bill has a new career that so far is "spot on" and even Tiger is slowly making a comeback.
Postscript: January 14, 2011
Newspapers are reporting that pictures of Douglas have shown up on the Internet. This obviously isn't going to end anytime soon. Ms. Douglas is still facing a review by her peers which could result in her being removed from the bench and I'm sure the re-posting of these pictures will not bode well for her future. Anonymity is a truly wonderful thing. (see Alan Parker's admonishment below)
Postscript: June 14, 2012
According to the Winnipeg Free Press as of May 18, 2012:
Jan. 6, 2011: An initial review of the complaint against Douglas determines it warrants further consideration and is forwarded to a review panel of five judges.
July 6, 2011: The five-judge review panel sends the investigation to a rare public inquiry to determine if Douglas should be removed from the bench.
According to Christine Blatchford in the Vancouver Sun, June 14, 2012, this whole case is at its best very weak. The Canadian Judicial Council, in the hopes of being transparent while under public scrutiny, is continuing out of due diligence but seems to be indirectly admitting the whole thing isn't worth it.
Postscript: June 25, 2012
The case seems to boil down to whether or not Douglas should be penalized for the actions of others. While the taking of explicit pictures of Ms. Douglas by her husband may be questionable, it is legal. If it is accepted that the husband then uploaded said pictures to the Internet or used those pictures in any dealings with Chapman without the knowledge of his wife, should Lori Douglas be in any way held accountable?
National Post - Jun 26/2012
Yes, judge’s hearing is all about the sex by Christine Blatchford
Ms. Blatchford sums up the current inquiry with the same assessment as I was trying to make above. It's all about the sex.
The Vancouver Sun - Jun 29/2012
Complaint's credibility in tatters at Judge Douglas's disciplinary hearing
By Christie Blatchford, Postmedia News June 28, 2012
It would seem that Mr. Chapman is something of an unsavory character. I'm certain Mr. King, the husband of Lori Douglas, rues the day he ever had any dealings with this man.
Postscript: July 27, 2012
I am betting that everyone involved is very, very sorry that this issue ever came to light. It is embarrassing but it is also distracting. I am sure many would argue there are far more important issues to be dealt with and no matter what happens here, nobody is ever going to get satisfaction. The latest newspaper articles on the case would lead one to believe that this is going to drag on and on and on.
The Toronto Star - Jul 26/2012
Lori Douglas is not a victim by Georgialee Lang
Georgialee Lang is a Vancouver lawyer and former adjunct professor at UBC law school. She has spent 24 years as trial and appellate counsel and authors an award-winning blog at lawdiva.wordpress.com [Ms. Lang has written an interesting article and a compelling argument for Lori Douglas to step down as a judge. Whether she is a victim or she is complicit no longer matters.]
Yes, I reject Douglas’ claims she is a victim; she is not. She has the education and sophistication of a worldly woman who knew when she applied for a judicial position that she would be held to a higher standard of conduct than the pole dancers at Winnipeg’s popular Teaser’s Burlesque Cabaret.
Judges must understand and accept restrictions on their activities, even if those activities would be acceptable for Jane Doe.
CBC - Jul 27/2012
Blackmail risk kept Manitoba judge from prior appointment
According to this report, other judges and/or the JAC have had knowledge of the sex pictures for nearly a decade and have acted accordingly worried about "the potential risk of embarrassment and blackmail."
Postscript: Nov 24, 2014
A Canadian Judicial Council panel has accepted an offer from Lori Douglas, a senior Manitoba judge, to retire early in exchange for avoiding a hearing on whether she should be kicked off the bench over nude photos of her that appeared on the internet. ... Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, said the agreement was struck with the council to stay the proceedings in return for the associate chief justice's offer to retire in May 2015. In addition to staying the proceedings, Douglas would have the photographs in question returned to her so she can destroy them. -CBC Nov 24/2014
Postscript: Jan 5, 2016
A Manitoba judge whose nude photos were posted online by her husband without her knowledge says her subsequent disciplinary hearing was like being repeatedly sexually assaulted. Douglas is quoted as saying that knowing staff with the Canadian Judicial Council were viewing the photos as part of the hearing was like "torture that's inflicted in war on women."
In the article, Douglas said she feels that had she been a man, the reaction to the photos would have been different. Douglas said she did nothing wrong and the council should have defended her rather than drag her through a messy disciplinary hearing. "But nobody spoke up for me," Douglas is quoted as saying. "If I had been a man whose wife was taking pictures, the CJC would have said, 'Poor Joe. He's married to a wing nut."'
Douglas is quoted by the magazine as saying her life crumbled when the photos surfaced. "I lost my job. I lost my life. I lost my reputation. If it hadn't been for my son, there would have been little reason to keep on." ... She was "furious" when she found out the photos existed online, Douglas said. King apologized to her almost every day and Douglas ended up forgiving him. -CBC Jan 5/2016
CBC: Nude photos of judge contained in complaint - Aug 31/2010
PumpsMag: Judge Lori Douglas Caught In Bondage Scandal (Hmmm, is this real?)
Radio-Canada: Une juge relevée de ses fonctions
Wikipedia: Lori Douglas
Wikipedia: Bill Clinton
Wikipedia: Pee-wee Herman
Wikipedia: Clarence Thomas
Wikipedia: Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)
The Toronto Star - September 1, 2010
Nude photos raise questions about private lives of judges
Winnipeg Free Press - September 23, 2010
Man drops sex-scandal lawsuit against Winnipeg judge
Toronto Sun blog - September 3, 2010
Manitoba sex judge just a Canadian copycat by Alan Parker
Mr. Parker in an amusing way compares Lori Douglas to a Belgian judge who also found himself in hot water over public revelations of his sexual escapades. Mr. Parker ends his blog entry with this admonishment:
If, on the other hand, she is able to hang onto her judging job, nobody — lawyers, court staff, civilians appearing before her — will ever be able to sit in her courtroom again without thinking about those photos of Judge Lori in her sweaty altogether with the chains and whips and sex toys/tools.
Let that be a lesson for you, kids: Whatever you do in your (supposedly) private life, don’t let anyone take photos of you doing it … or it could someday be far more public than you ever expected.
Canadian Judge Cum Porn Star Will Be Probed
By David Lat - Jan 7/2011
Above The Law - Feb 3/2011
Madam Justice Lori Douglas: Underneath Her Robe By David Lat
[This site offers up censored versions of the photos, but also says where to see the uncensored versions.]
Wikipedia: Above the Law (blog)
AboveTheLaw.com, is a law gossip blog which circulates rumors primarily about large commercial law firms (Biglaw). Above the Law publishes the rumored salaries and bonuses (according to off-the-record associates) at many of these large firms. The site occasionally publishes gossip and rumors about law schools and small legal practices. Above the Law was recognized in 2008 by the ABA Journal as one of the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers. The Washington Post in passing, called Above the Law "a must-read legal blog."
|Site Map - William Quincy Belle||Follow me on Twitter|