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Embattled Ottawa lawyer James Bowie facing new accusations of harassment, manipulation, sexual assault


WARNING: This story contains graphic content.

A prominent Ottawa lawyer accused of offering legal services in exchange for sexual favours is now facing accusations of harassment, manipulation and sexual assault.

James Bowie rose to mainstream prominence on Twitter by chronicling the court appearances of 'Freedom Convoy 'organizers.' But for years before that, he was allegedly already known in some circles as a man some women say they didn't trust or feel safe around.

CTV News has spoken with nine women who all detailed a pattern of behaviour by Bowie which they received repeated and unwanted illicit messages, offers of cocaine, and attempts to solicit sexual favours.

One woman said Bowie spent two years pressuring her into performing sexual acts, and at one point sexually assaulted her. Another woman said Bowie came to her workplace and berated her when she rejected his advances.

Last week, it emerged that Bowie is the subject of an official complaint to the Law Society of Ontario, alleging that he offered a woman legal services in exchange for sexual favours.

CTV News reached out to Bowie for comment, but he did not respond. Late Tuesday afternoon, a lawyer representing him said he does not have access to electronic devices at this time and could not do an interview. 

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Woman allegedly pressured into sexual acts

One woman said over a two-year period, she was pressured into performing sexual acts on Bowie in exchange for legal advice she never received.

"I would go to him for help, he would say he would help me, and then he would either force himself on or I would just cave and do what he wanted so he would stop," she told CTV News.

The pair met on a dating site in 2019. The woman said she was trying to find someone with a stable job who could help her get out of her job as an escort.

But the woman says it quickly became apparent a relationship wouldn't work. Instead, she turned to him for legal advice about previous sexual harassment she had experienced.

"I was really poor, and I kind of needed a lawyer, and he said it wasn’t illegal because we were friends and seeing each other, so it wasn’t really illegal for him to do that with me," she said.

"Then he started asking me about other women, and trying to get me specifically to recruit other women and it got basically only about that," she said. "Specifically he wanted two girls to perform oral sex on him at the same time.

She said she told Bowie several times that she was tired of something happening every time she visited him, and told him several times "I'm not doing this anymore."

"He would be like 'No seriously, you need help,' and I would come over and he would still force himself on me, even though I said no."

"Even if you said no to him, he would keep at it until you just crack, and then you felt like you said okay…so it was okay, but in reality he would just push and push and push and push and push.

"Some was consensual, some was grey, and some was not at all," she said.

She said one time when she went to Bowie's office seeking help, he sexually assaulted her.

"I wasn’t expecting him to pin me to the desk and then I was saying ‘No, no no, no no,’ but he still forced himself on me.

"When he sent me in the cab he said, 'Thanks for letting me rape you.'"

The woman says the experience left her traumatized and feeling suicidal.

"The fact I let it happen so long, and I went back to him after that, made me feel like I was in the wrong, like I was useless, like I should have stopped it," she said. "I don’t want other women to feel like this. I don’t, because I don’t have words for how I feel."

The woman said after the initial CTV News story came out last week about Bowie's alleged conduct with a client, she submitted a complaint to Ottawa police.

Bowie is now the subject of a criminal investigation by Ottawa police, CTV News has learned.

Woman says Bowie harassed her at workplace

Another woman told CTV News that after rejecting Bowie's advances, he came into her workplace and verbally harassed her.

"He was very persistent, even though I had already said no," she said. "And then a week or so later, he came into the restaurant and sat at the bar and said very explicit things to me about how he was going to take me to New York and put me up in a hotel and sort of lock me in there and have his way with me"

In some cases, women reported Bowie made attempts to have them recruit other women for sexual encounters. Other text messages show Bowie asking about "much younger girls."

Two downtown restaurants confirmed to CTV News that they have banned Bowie for alleged drug use or inappropriate comments made towards female staff members. And two new complaints have been filed to the law society over Bowie's actions.

Bowie and his lawyer have not responded to requests for comment from CTV News. But after the first story broke about Bowie's investigation by the law society, he went on the social platform Discord to defend himself.

He said he was merely flirting with his client, describing her as a broke single mom who told (lawyer Michael) Spratt "some sob story" to avoid paying her bills.

'Completely shocking'

Lawyer Michael Spratt, who is representing that complainant, said multiple women have reached out to him since the story broke with "seriously troubling" allegations.

"I’ve talked to approximately two dozen women who have independently reached out—voice mails, telephone calls, emails, through social media—describing experiences that range from gross sexual misconduct to criminal offences."

"The things that I’ve heard—the brazenness of some of the allegations, the disrespect and the pure predatory nature of the stories I’ve heard—is completely shocking."

Spratt said many of the allegations he's heard relate to Bowie's conduct as a lawyer.

"The real danger is when there is a power imbalance between a lawyer and someone who is seeking legal information, maybe someone in a desperate situation because they have charges, they’re being evicted, or they’re trying to seek justice in some other way," he said. "To have a lawyer use that to his advantage is profoundly troubling, not only for the woman in question but for society as a whole and for the reputation of our profession."

Spratt said he has urged those reaching out to him to make complaints to the law society or report matters to the police. For some "very serious allegations," he has referred them to independent counsel. Top Stories

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