Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canadian immigration judge sentenced to 1 1/2 years for sexual extortion of immigrant

A Canadian immigration judge was sentenced to 1 1/2 years imprisonment Thursday, July 29 for coercing a sexual relationship with a South Korean refugee. 51 year old Steve Ellis, immigration judge, lawyer, and former Toronto City Counselor, was found guilty of breach of trust and bribery after his guilty verdict on April 21. Ellis heard the case of a then 25 year old South Korean woman in July 2006, and during a meeting rigged by the victim's boyfriend on September 26, 2006 in a Toronto coffee house, said that “I really like you, and I really want to be friends with you.” After dumping his Filipina mistress, he promised the woman, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to be demanding. I’m not going to ask you to move in with me or anything like that. . . . I’m not going to fall in love with you.” The Crown proved that Ellis' "indecision" on the woman's refugee status would become a "yes" if she slept with him.

Ellis' 1 1/2 year sentence was a compromise between the Crown's insistence of a 3 to 3 1/2 year sentence and the defense's wish for probation. Superior Court Justice Thea Herman said that Ellis' sexual extortion “breached the significant trust placed in him and undermined public confidence in Canada’s immigration and refugee system." Herman also said that the principles of denunciation and deterrence are the major factors in breach of trust cases and said that he took advantage of his power over her as a male judge versus a female immigrant who had already been abused by men.

During the guilty verdict, she said, “There is no doubt that Mr. Ellis intended to use his public office — in particular, his considerable power over Ms. Kim — for his own benefit, that is, for an intimate relationship with Ms. Kim. Mr. Ellis literally held Ms. Kim’s life in his hands. He toyed with her right up to the end.”

Herman said the defence established Ellis suffers from bipolar disorder that may have impaired his judgment but “he knew what he was doing was wrong. . . . This was not an impulsive act.” However, the judge said Ellis had an “otherwise unblemished career” and this was “not a pattern of conduct.”

The victim, Ji Hye Kim, appeared at sentencing with her husband Brad Tripp, and said afterwards that they wish to move on with their lives.

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