A former Toronto city councillor turned former Immigration and Refugee Board judge is on trial for allegedly trying to extract sexual favours from a South Korean refugee claimant.

The Crown claims that Steve Ellis told Ji-Hye Kim he would deny her refugee claim in September 2006 unless she slept with him.

Kim and her boyfriend Brad Tripp used both audio and video recorders to surreptitiously tape the South Korean's encounter with an individual the Crown intends to prove to be Ellis at a downtown Starbucks on Sept. 25, 2006, federal Crown attorney Lynda Trefler said.

During the course of the exchange, the man appears to tell Kim he has denied her refugee claim, but would reverse his decision if she agreed to a sexual relationship.

"Let me see what I can do. I'm going to work on it. I really want to be friends with you," he said.

He can also be heard saying he’s married and that Kim wouldn't have to worry about him falling in love with her.

"Don't tell nobody, okay?" he is heard telling Kim, who was then 25, on the audiotape.

At the time of the incident, Kim supplied the tapes to both CTV News and the police.

Shortly after that exchange, police arrested Ellis, a non-practising lawyer, and charged him with:

  • breach of trust (Criminal Code)
  • knowingly making or issuing a false document or statement, or accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe or other benefit in respect to a refugee application (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act)

He pleaded not guilty. Ellis is being represented by high-profile defence lawyer John Rosen.

The case is being heard by a judge alone, who will hear the audio and video tapes over the course of the trial. They have reportedly been "synched' by a forensic expert.

Ellis was appointed to the board in 2000, but was a city councillor between 1991 and 1997. The chair of the Immigration Appeal Board suspended him immediately from the $120,000-per-year position and banned him from IRB property upon hearing the allegations.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Chris Eby