A witness to a physical altercation involving Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown told police the jurist followed her and her daughter to their hotel room and that she was glad a former U.S. Marine protected them.
Body-cam footage and a written police report show that three witnesses to Justice Brown’s conduct at an Arizona resort told largely the same story as that reported by the ex-Marine, Jonathan Crump: that Justice Brown was drunk and, according to two of the witnesses, kissed and touched one of the women without her consent, before the altercation. (The third said she did not see the kisses or touches.)
“He protected us and I’m very thankful he was there – God only knows what might have happened,” Nikki Bowmaster told Officer Adam Balcom of the Paradise Valley Police Department about the alleged events of Jan. 28.
Justice Brown has denied the allegations and police did not lay charges.
Ms. Bowmaster was at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia with her daughter Paige, Paige’s friend Meghan McIntyre, and Ms. McIntyre’s boyfriend, Mr. Crump.
Justice Brown, 57, has been on paid leave from his $403,300 a year job at the Supreme Court of Canada since Feb. 1. Chief Justice Richard Wagner placed him on indefinite leave after the Canadian Judicial Council informed him on Jan. 31 of a complaint it received two days earlier.
The events at the resort are the subject of the complaint. The Canadian Judicial Council has not released the complaint, or Justice Brown’s written response to it. Under federal law, there is no guarantee the written complaint will ever be revealed, even if a public inquiry is held that could lead to a recommendation for dismissal.
Justice Brown, in a statement last week, said the allegations are “demonstrably false,” and that Mr. Crump assaulted him without provocation. His lawyer, Brian Gover, said Monday in an e-mail that “the evidence provided to the Canadian Judicial Council confirms his account of the incident.”
Justice Brown was in Arizona to introduce former Canadian Supreme Court judge Louise Arbour, who won an award, at a dinner held in the resort.
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The 31-year-old Mr. Crump called the Paradise Valley Police Department. By his own description, he threw the only punches, and was the first to shove the other man, after he said Justice Brown followed the women out of the bar.
“I said, ‘You’re not following us.’ He tried to get around me,” Mr. Crump told the officer in the recorded interview. “I said you’re not following the girls to the room at all. I shoved him. He came back at me. I kind of fought him a little bit.”
He said he threw two punches and the judge didn’t punch him at all. “He didn’t give up much of a fight.”
In the police video, taken about an hour after the altercation, Mr. Crump’s shirt is ripped at the chest. He became belligerent when the investigating officer, Officer Balcom, called him the “primary aggressor,” based on Mr. Crump’s own version of events. (In all, four officers came to the resort because of the call.) Officer Balcom later told Ms. Bowmaster and her daughter that he nearly charged Mr. Crump with disorderly conduct.
A resort official told Officer Balcom he found Justice Brown by the hotel pool. Justice Brown declined medical attention and went back to his room on his own, and when police came to his door to interview him, he did not respond.
Officer Balcom described Ms. Bowmaster in his written report as “the most sober out of all the people I interviewed … did not show any signs of alcohol impairment.”
Ms. Bowmaster told him Justice Brown kissed her daughter on the cheek or neck while at the same time making sexual advances on her, the mother.
“I felt like he was coming on to me while he was touching her – super creepy,” Ms. Bowmaster told Officer Balcom in the recorded interview. She didn’t elaborate, except to say Justice Brown asked her to join him later on an early-morning hike.
Ms. Bowmaster’s daughter Paige said Justice Brown touched her on her lower leg and agreed with her mother that Justice Brown kissed her more than once on her cheek or neck. (Mr. Crump used the word “groped” but the women did not.)
The officer asked the daughter if he had touched her on the breasts, buttocks or crotch and she said no. The officer asked if the judge had touched her in a sexual way and she said no. She said she did not fear injury, but said the touching was unwanted.
The officer told the women and Mr. Crump he saw no grounds to lay charges against anyone. Mr. Crump, he said, acted reasonably to defend the women, and Justice Brown was “just some creepy guy.”
The Globe and Mail has not been able to reach Mr. Crump or the other witnesses for comment.