The sordid and sad story of Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian judge featured in nude photographs that her husband took and then posted to the internet, is starting to get picked up by U.S. media outlets. Yesterday, for example, it made the pages of the New York Daily News.
It’s not surprising that the story is spreading
wider than Her Honor’s legs beyond Canada. An ethics inquiry arising out of the pornographic pictures is nearing its climax. This week, Justice Douglas’s husband, lawyer Jack King, has been testifying to the Canadian Judicial Council.
What does King have to say for himself?
Before the spin, let’s start with the facts. How many nude pictures did Jack King take of Lori Douglas? A whole lot, according to CBC News:
King said he took between 100 and 150 pornographic photos of his wife between 1999 and 2003. At the time she was a lawyer and had applied to become a judge twice, in 1999 and in 2002. She successfully re-applied in 2004 and was appointed to the bench in 2005.
King told the inquiry he liked to take the nude photos outside when the weather was warm, and that he started posting them to the internet in 2002. He claimed that he stopped taking the photos before [Alex] Chapman complained about the couple sexually harassing him in 2003.
Alex Chapman, as you may recall, is the former client of Jack King whose allegations of sexual harassment by the couple are what launched this whole inquiry. Chapman claims that King used the photos to try and arrange a sexual encounter between Chapman and Douglas, and that this effort amounted to “sexual harassment” of him by the couple.
Even accepting the allegations as true, they don’t come close to establishing sexual harassment by Douglas. First, King’s offering up his wife to a client or former client, while showing extremely poor judgment (and taste), doesn’t really amount to “sexual harassment” (even on the part of King). Second, it seems quite clear that Douglas had no idea what was going on — no idea that her husband had posted the pictures online, and no idea that he was trying to use them to arrange a tryst between herself and Alex Chapman. Third, posing for nude pictures taken by her spouse has no bearing of Justice Douglas’s fitness for the bench or ability to serve as a judge. For these reasons, I am definitely in Lori Douglas’s camp (as I’ve mentioned before).
(For additional defenses of Justice Douglas, see commentaries by Professor Karen Busby and columnist Heather Mallick. As Professor Busby points out, it seems ridiculous to get so hot-and-bothered over some BDSM photos in an age in which Fifty Shades of Grey (affiliate link) is a bestseller.)
Now, on to Jack King’s explanations of his conduct. Here are some excerpts from his hearing testimony:
“[I posted the photos in] pursuit of some absolutely bizarre sexual behaviour on my part, self gratification on my part.”
“My judgment in this regard had left me.”
“A number of adjectives apply: bizarre, ridiculous, stupid, self-indulgent, grotesque and so on.”
You can say that again — and again, and again, and again. Alas, it won’t erase the pain of what Justice Douglas has had to go through. King’s testimony makes clear that Douglas, rather than participating in the alleged “harassment,” was actually a victim:
“She had no idea until June 2003 that I had posted any pictures on the internet.”
“She was absolutely distraught and horrified. The anger came later. She was devastated and so was I.”
According to King’s testimony, Douglas didn’t give much thought to the photos (at least at the time they were taken). Here is how columnist Heather Mallick characterizes his comments:
It was a compartmentalized marriage, literally. She did not ask what he did with the photos he took of her nude and manacled, nor where he had them developed, nor where he kept them. She didn’t know how to use their home’s only computer, he claimed.
She couldn’t even operate a camera on vacation. “She was so technically incompetent that the settings had to be done for her” before she photographed him and their toddler on vacation.
According to him, Douglas was something of an idiot and a profoundly incurious one. Of everything, “she never asked.”
It sounds like a strange marriage, but at the same time, a very strong one. King and Douglas, who have one son together, remain married. How many marital unions could survive what theirs has been through?
Bizarre as it might sound, there is a deeply romantic undercurrent to this whole unfortunate spectacle. If the nude photographs of Justice Douglas could cause Jack King to take leave of his faculties in the way that he did, clearly he is crazy in love with Lori Douglas. And if she can forgive her husband for all the pain and humiliation he has inflicted upon her, which could culminate in her losing her job, clearly she is crazy in love with him.
Canadian Judge Lori Douglas may lose robes over nude photos [New York Daily News]
Judge’s husband tells inquiry of sexual fantasies [CBC News]
Judge’s husband took nude photos for years, inquiry hears [CBC News]
Heather Mallick: Photos of Manitoba judge beyond sadness [Toronto Star]
Judge not lest ye be spanked [Globe and Mail]
Earlier: So You Want To Be A Supreme Court Justice? Don’t Sniff Glue.
Madam Justice Lori Douglas: Underneath Her Robe
Witness Claims Canadian Judge of Nude Photo Fame Touched His Muscles
Probe Into Madam Justice Lori Douglas Gets Underway
Madam Justice Lori Douglas Goes on the Offensive