An Ottawa judge created a fake online dating profile the night before acquitting a man of sexual assault and told a detective that information on the site could have been used against the female complainant, prosecutors allege.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray summoned Detective Erin Lehman to his chambers after the verdict on Dec. 18 and revealed his activities from the previous night on match.com, the officer says in an affidavit. He then suggested they have lunch or grab a coffee one day, she alleges.
The Crown is appealing the acquittal, largely on the grounds that the judge’s conversation with the detective “gives rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias,” according to documents filed with the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
“In choosing to independently seek out information about the complainant that did not form part of the evidence, information which he viewed as negative to the complainant’s credibility, the trial judge revealed a reasonable apprehension of bias,” the Crown says.
When Det. Lehman arrived in Justice Ray’s chambers that day, after he’d asked the bailiff to “discreetly” request Det. Lehman’s presence, he asked her if she had gone on match.com during her investigation, Det. Lehman says in her affidavit. She said she hadn’t, and Justice Ray told her he had gone on the night before and created a fake profile pretending to be a 25-year-old 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,” Det. Lehman says in her affidavit.
“He went on to say that you have to enter a large amount of information, including how many drinks on average you consume and how many you would like your potential mate to consume.”
The two proceeded to chat about the trial and various witnesses, Det. Lehman says, with Justice Ray asking her if she was surprised by certain testimony and remarking that he didn’t understand why the victim was with the accused.
“At some point Justice Ray stated that he was not sure if he was supposed to be talking to me like this, but that his decision had already been made and was heard,” Det. Lehman says in her affidavit.
He then extended the invitation for lunch or coffee, and Det. Lehman told him she practically lived at the courthouse, she says.