Canadian Supreme Court judge on leave after Arizona resort altercation

Justice Russell Brown
Canadian Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown is on leave while an investigation looks into a physical altercation at an Arizona hotel (Image: Supreme Court of Canada)

An alleged drunken altercation at an Arizona resort has landed a Canadian Supreme Court justice on paid leave.

According to a police case report filed in January, a US Marine Corps veteran claimed that Justice Russell Brown engaged in the “unwanted touching” of a female guest at the resort that month.

The veteran said he later punched Mr Brown “a few times” during an argument.

Mr Brown has denied the claims and called the account “demonstrably false”.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Judicial Council announced it was reviewing a complaint received in January into Mr Brown’s alleged conduct in Arizona. He has been on leave since 1 February as the judicial oversight body looks into the matter.

There are differing accounts of the incident, which took place while Mr Brown, 57, was staying at the luxury Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, attending a gala celebrating a former colleague.

Jonathan Crump, a 31-year-old mortgage adviser and US army veteran, told The Vancouver Sun last week that the judge was harassing his female friend after they met Mr Brown in the resort bar late on 28 January.

He said he was irritated by what he claimed was the judge’s boastful behaviour and that the judge later followed the group back to their room.

“I told him: ‘You’re clearly intoxicated and the girls are creeped out by you. He shoved me …. I pushed him back, then punched him in the face twice and he fell to the ground,” Mr Crump told the newspaper.

Following the publication of that story, Mr Brown released a statement, saying that “in light of the false statements in the media by Mr Jonathan Crump, I am compelled to respond”.

He confirmed parts of Mr Crump’s account, saying he joined the group at the table but “did not speak or otherwise engage with him”.

“We all left the lounge at roughly the same time. Outside the lounge, Mr Crump objected to me rejoining the group and suddenly, without warning or provocation, punched me several times in the head. Taken by surprise, I was unable to defend myself,” he said.

In his media statement, Mr Brown said Mr Crump called police “in an apparent attempt to avoid facing the consequences of assaulting me” adding that he was falsely described as the instigator of the incident.

“The evidence I provided to the Council corroborates my account of the incident,” he said.

Paradise Valley Police Department answered the subsequent call on the part of Mr Crump at 01:37 am local time (08:37 GMT) early on 29 January.

According to the police report, Mr Brown was allegedly making women in the group feel uncomfortable, touching them and kissing their hands, Mr Crump told the responding officer.

Mr Crump grew hostile during the interview and appeared “under the influence of alcohol”, the police officer noted.

One of the women told police that the judge kissed her cheek a couple of times and touched her back and leg. She said it was not in a “sexual way” but agreed when asked if it was “unwanted touching”. Two other women in the party said that Mr Brown also made them feel uncomfortable.

Police attempted to interview Mr Brown but were unable to reach him.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the use of force appeared reasonable and necessary, and no crime was determined,” the officer concluded in his case report.

Contacted by BBC News on Tuesday, Mr Brown’s lawyer, Brian Gover, said in an email that the judge had nothing to add to his earlier statement.

There are nine justices on the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr Brown was appointed in 2015.


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