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Judge violated legal principles with visit to dating website

Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray had summoned the lead sex assault detective ‘discreetly’ to discuss his own findings on open case


 

TORONTO – A judge who created a bogus online dating profile and told a detective that information from the website could have been used to “hang” a female complainant has had his knuckles rapped by Ontario’s top court.

In ordering a new trial for a man acquitted of sexual assault, the Ontario Court of Appeal found Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray had violated basic legal principles.

“The conduct of the trial judge while his decision was under reserve as well as his statements to the officer about that conduct were improper and created a reasonable apprehension of bias,” the Appeal Court said.

“(This) taints the verdicts of acquittal.”

The situation arose in December 2013, when the Ottawa judge retired to consider an appropriate sentence for a man he had just convicted of simple assault — but had acquitted of sexual assault.

Documents show he sent a note to the lead detective, Erin Lehman, saying he wanted to see her in his chambers.

On her arrival, Ray asked if she had gone on Match.com — the dating website on which the complainant and accused had met.

According to court documents, Ray told the officer he had created a fake online profile the previous night before he delivered his verdict, pretending to be a gay man.

“He then told me that if defence had done the same thing, she would have been able to ‘hang’ the victim with all of the information available,” Lehman said in an affidavit.

Lehman said Ray had asked the bailiff to summon her “discreetly.” She also said Ray had suggested they have lunch or grab a coffee one day.

Crown lawyer Vikki Bair wrote in an Appeal Court filing she was “shocked” by Lehman’s account, calling the incident “very disturbing.”

Ray later declared a mistrial on the convictions, admitting to an “error in judgment.” However, he insisted he had based his verdicts only on the evidence, and had gone online “out of curiosity,” court documents show.

“I was faced with a great number of very personal questions,” the judge said. “I then logged out.”

Ray also said he was only trying to point out to Lehman that people using the website have to disclose information that could be useful to investigators or defence lawyers.

Either way, the Appeal Court was not impressed.

“He conducted his own research into a website that had been the subject of evidence at trial while his decision was under reserve — contrary to the basic principle that judges and jurors must make their judicial decisions based only on the evidence presented in court on the record,” the Appeal Court said.

The court also criticized Ray’s views about using website information to “hang” the complainant as well as comments he made in his reasons for judgment. Among other things, he used “irrelevant stereotypes” to judge the complainant, the Appeal Court said in its decision released Friday.

Those comments included his opinion that the complainant did not appear to be an abused or insecure woman.


 
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Judge violated legal principles with visit to dating website

  1. While it is admirable to expect judges to be held to a higher standard than the average person, it is also near impossible to achieve.

  2. Roar. This is so frustrating. I heard about this case a year ago. Sad how fricking slowly everything moves in this country. I have sat in on so many trials in Ottawa. The criminal system is heartbreakingly incestual (crown on the same soccer team as defense & judges, etc) and leads to many abused women perpetually being put behind bars because they don’t know where to put the hurt and rage from a system that does basically nothing to protect vagina-owners from the gender that is typically bigger than them & is blessed with an organ that makes it easier to just “jam it in” and the psychological skills necessary to convince a lot of women to do stuff they might not otherwise want to do. Not saying it can’t go the other way, but biologically it’s more difficult for a girl to force herself on a guy, using the average size stats & effort that has to go into getting date rape + viagra, when a guy needs way less to penetrate or intimidate to the point of getting it down a throat or in a bum. Anyone who would rather send that guy to jail than try and confront him & get to the heart of his aggression probably is a bit vindictive, or very very scared. Which brings me to….

    I’m on bail for “criminal harassment” of an abusive ex (who apologized years ago for being abusive due to mental illness) in Ottawa. My lawyer hasn’t shown any of the evidence I’ve given him that the person who reported me altered emails, threatened my family, etc and the crown put a ridiculous sentence on my initial disclosure (“jailtime likely, no weapons, DNA, psychiatric assessment needed, 3 years probation) when I never came close to the guy, I wasn’t even pissed about the abuse that caused me to fail out of McGill, I was just pissed that 5 years later he was STILL cheating & lying and treating me like I was the crazy one and obviously doing that to other barely of age (I’m 9 years younger but he lied about his age when we were at McGill to me and other girls). Anyways, the system is about one thing– money & punishment, & the crown, lawyers & judges NEVER get punished for messing up or exploiting the system or setting it up so a lawyer gets maximum legalaid as opposed to pushing it through the courts as fairly and quickly as possible, so everyone walks away feeling like the conflict has been resolved.

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