In an embarrassing case for the Canadian immigration system, a court on Thursday jailed an immigration judge for demanding sex from a South Korean woman to grant her permanent residence in this country.
Fifty one year old Steve Ellis will spend 18 months in jail for pressuring Ji Hye Kim to have sex with him if she were to have her application for permanent residence to be approved by him. A refugee claimant, Ji Hye Kim, 25 then (2006), trapped the judge with the help of her boyfriend who videotaped his sexual overtures to the South Korean woman.
Ellis made the sex proposal to the woman during his meetings with her at a Toronto restaurant where she worked as a waitress.
After his two visits to her, the woman set the trap during his third visit and recorded his lewd conversation with the help of her media technician boyfriend Brad Tripp, now her husband.
In recorded video, the judge is heard telling the young Korean woman, "You have got a boyfriend and I have got a wife. If we do things on the side, that's okay. I am not going to ask you to move in with me or anything like that. I am not going to fall in love with you.''
Kissing her goodbye, Ellis told the woman to keep their meetings secret from her lawyer and boyfriend. If the secret is revealed, he told her that he would be in trouble and "she would lose her (permanent residence) status.''
But she went ahead and reported the matter to police. Ellis was suspended as the immigration board judge and a case registered against him.
Sentencing Ellis on Thursday, Superior Court Justice Thea Herman said he "breached the significant trust placed in him'' and his demeanour undermined public confidence in the country's immigration and refugee system.
The court said Ellis will have to be put behind bars to send a strong message that breach public cannot be tolerated. Admitting the defence plea that Ellis suffered from bipolar disorder that may have impaired his judgment, the court said, "This was not an impulsive act he knew what he was doing was wrong. He took advantage of the power he had over her.''
The prosecution had demanded three years for Ellis, while the defence pleaded for a conditional sentence for him to be served in the community.