Disgraced Ottawa lawyer James Bowie is being sued for $325,000, plus damages, in a sexual harassment and defamation lawsuit filed by a former client.
A statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court by the former client, a 29-year-old woman struggling with finances, stated Bowie offered a “deal” that would have her performing oral sex every two weeks to pay off her legal bill.
The former client, “deeply disturbed” by the proposition, also said Bowie sent her an unsolicited image of his penis, according to the statement of claim filed by Ottawa lawyer Christine Johnson.
The lawsuit — which includes breach of confidence — matches the narrative this newspaper previously reported after the former client filed a complaint with the Law Society of Ontario.
The suspended lawyer is also accused of threatening his client to keep quiet.
“(Bowie) advised the (client) not to tell anyone about their Snapchat exchanges and warned that, if she did, she would jeopardize her criminal defense and could end up getting convicted,” according to the statement of claim.
Bowie also “bragged to the (client) about knowing the Crown Attorney assigned to the file and suggested that this would help him in getting the charges against him dismissed,” according to the statement of claim.
Born in 1983, Bowie remains under a law-society investigation that he offered legal services in exchange for oral sex.
In the law-society complaint, reviewed by this newspaper, the former client attached screenshots of Snapchat messages to support her claim.
The messages included references to snorting cocaine, sex for legal services and wine.
The Snapchat messages appear to show that his client at the time said doing cocaine wouldn’t help her mental health.
A message from a Bowie account revised: “Maybe we should … I find it tends to get the party started … Coke, wine .. fun.”
A message from a Bowie account replied on Snapchat: “I’m talking about our deal, what we were talking about before, and I’m proposing you.”
The client said she didn’t want to perform oral sex. A message from the purported Bowie account then asked: “Do you find me attractive?” “Into you? Romantically? I’ve never met you,” the client appears to reply on Snapchat.
“It made me feel powerless and also ashamed that all I was worth was sexual favors. It led to depression, time off work, lost weight, stress and suicide,” she told this newspaper in December.
In the complaint to the law society, she said, “(Bowie) has caused me trauma and I am worried he will do the same to other vulnerable people. He should not be in a position of power or trust.”
Bowie is suspended from practice after failing to co-operate in three unrelated investigations. Bowie, accused in open court of predatory behavior, believed he was famous on Twitter after exploiting the protest convoy. He garnered many Twitter followers and managing his social media accounts was more time-consuming than his limited legal practice.
Bowie said he was just too busy to reply to the law society.
“I’ve just been busier than I’ve ever been in my life,” Bowie told a law society investigator in a March 9 email.
Bowie was suspended last year for professional misconduct. Law Society Tribunal chair Murray Chitra ordered Bowie to cease practicing law immediately until he answered fully and appropriately to public complaints that he gave poor service and ghosted clients when they demanded a refund.
Bowie also practiced law while under suspension in 2022. Bowie had multiple short-term administrative suspensions, according to an affidavit filed by a law society investigator.
While those complaints were addressed at a disciplinary hearing last year, Bowie is now waiting for the results of another law society investigation about allegations that Bowie offered legal services for sex, invited the client to crush lines of cocaine and then sent the client an unsolicited picture of his penis.
The defamation part of the lawsuit has to do with the night Bowie went on a podcast and portrayed his former client as a liar who fabricated the accusations to avoid paying her legal bill. Bowie also described his former client as a broken, drugged-up single mom.
Bowie and his lawyer have yet to respond to this newspaper’s repeated requests for comment.