Ottawa lawyer James Bowie charged with extortion

The suspended lawyer is already facing charges of harassment, extortion and two counts of uttering threats to a woman.

Article content

Embattled Ottawa lawyer James Bowie was back in court again last week to face a new charge of extorting a former client for oral sex.

Article content

The suspended lawyer is already facing criminal charges of harassment, extortion and two counts of uttering threats to a woman.

Bowie, 39, is also being sued for $325,000 in a sexual harassment and defamation lawsuit filed by a former client.

In the statement of claim, a 29-year-old woman struggling with finances, says 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 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.

Article content

Article content

Bowie is also accused of threatening the former 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 defence and could end up getting convicted,” the claim states.

More, the claim says, Bowie “bragged” to the client about knowing the Crown attorney assigned to the file and suggested that this would help her in getting the charges tossed.

Bowie is suspended from practice after failing to co-operate in three unrelated investigations. Bowie, accused in open court of predatory behaviour, believed he was famous on Twitter for his commentary on the Freedom Convoy. Bowie said his social media account was more time-consuming than his legal practice and was just too busy to reply to the law society.

Article content

“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 practising law immediately until he answers fully and appropriately to public complaints that he gave poor service and ghosted clients when they demanded a refund.

Bowie also practised 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 consume lines of cocaine and then sent the client an unsolicited picture of his penis.

Article content

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 replied: “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 propositioning 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?”

Article content

“Into you? Romantically?” “I’ve never met you,” the client appears to reply on Snapchat.

The client told this newspaper in December that “it made me feel powerless and also ashamed that all I was worth was sexual favours. It led to depression, time off work, lost weight, stress and suicidal.”

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.”

None of the criminal or civil allegations have been proved, nor tested in court.

Bowie’s lawyer, Eric Granger, noted that his client doesn’t have a criminal record and is presumed innocent of all charges.

“The appropriate forum to address criminal charges is the courtroom, which is where Mr. Bowie will be vigorously defended against any and all charges. It would be inappropriate to comment further while this matter remains before the courts.”


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply