Suspended Ontario lawyer facing new sexual harassment claims

Law society granted trusteeship of lawyer's estate

Suspended Ontario lawyer facing new sexual harassment claims

Ottawa lawyer James Bowie is set to face criminal trial in September after one of his clients filed a sexual harassment case against him, according to a report.

The client, Leanne Aubin, has accused the embattled lawyer of offering her legal services in exchange for sexual acts, CBC reported, citing court documents filed in Toronto by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) which sought to made trustee of Bowie's business, its records and any funds.

Aubin is suing Bowie for about $325,000. She alleged that she was extorted by the lawyer and that, on two occasions, he threatened to kill her. He pleaded not guilty to both allegations.

A criminal trial is set in September. However, the lawsuit could be handled in court without Bowie’s involvement because he has not mounted a proper defence, according to the CBC report.

Bowie "denies those allegations and they have been set for trial where they will be vigorously defended," said Eric Granger, criminal lawyer for Bowie, according to the CBC report.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while that matter remains before the courts. It would be equally inappropriate for Mr. Bowie to comment on these matters while he has outstanding matters before the courts."

Recently, a judge ruled that a police officer in Hamilton, Ont. was guilty of sexually assaulting a woman he was mentoring in 2010 – but he will not be serving any jail time.

Other allegations of sexual harassment

Bowie is facing a total of six allegations of sexual harassment, made by clients, members of the public, and a fellow licencee (either a lawyer or paralegal), CBC reported, citing the affidavit of one of their investigators.

One complainant alleged that after she retained Bowie on a criminal matter in August 2018, he offered her sex and cocaine and "tried to force himself on her physically/sexually”. The client also claimed that Bowie masturbated in front of her, asked her personal questions about her body, and showed up at her house twice, "the second time uninvited."

The law society did not file supporting documents for the four other sexual harassment complaints.

In each of those investigations, the society claimed that Bowie "may have engaged in sexual harassment, may have failed to conduct himself with honour and/or integrity, and may have conducted his personal/private affairs in such a manner as to bring discredit upon the profession."

Previously, a police officer in Windsor, Ont. was demoted after pleading guilty to two charges under the Police Services Act for engaging in "vexatious conduct" against lower ranking female Windsor police employees.

On May 4, Superior Court Justice Cory Gilmore granted the law society's application to be made trustee of Bowie's business and close it down.

Bowie is subject to 12 LSO investigations overall, including complaints from multiple clients that they paid him to represent them, but he eventually stopped responding to them and failed to account for how the money had been spent.

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