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Immigration judge who wanted sex for granting citizenship gets 18 months

A former Immigration judge who propositioned a South Korean refugee claimant with sex in exchange for citizenship in 2006 was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday.

Steve Ellis, 51, was convicted in April with breach of trust and bribery. He had pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Mr. Ellis was the adjudicator at Ji Hye Kim's refugee hearing in 2006. Ms. Kim was 25 years old at the time.

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The court heard that Mr. Ellis visited Ms. Kim twice at the restaurant where she worked and made comments she interpreted as sexual propositions.

The third time they met, Ms. Kim's boyfriend secretly videotaped the encounter.

The tape, given to CTV news, shows Mr. Ellis and Ms. Kim in a coffee shop. Mr. Ellis proposes that he needs a "girlfriend on the side" of his marriage, and in exchange he'll see what he can do about Ms. Kim's refugee claim. Ms. Kim was seeking asylum in Canada from her physically abusive father.

Federal Crown Attorney Lynda Trefler said Mr. Ellis breached a public trust.

"He owed a duty to the Canadian public who trusted him with this power and authority to make decisions on behalf of the Canadian government," Ms. Trefler said.

She said Thursday's sentencing sent a message that, when someone in a position like Mr. Ellis's abuses their power, it would be taken seriously.

The sentence paves the way for other vulnerable individuals like Ms. Kim to come forward, she said.

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"It certainly sends a message that justice is being done," Ms. Trefler said.

On Thursday CTV reported that the judge in the case ruled that Mr. Ellis' bipolar disorder was a mitigating factor, but that Mr. Ellis still knew what he was doing was wrong. Bipolar disorder can lead to errors in judgment.

John Rosen, Mr. Ellis' lawyer, says his client told him to appeal the sentence. "I have instructions to proceed with an appeal," Mr. Rosen said from his office.

It could take months to prepare the documents, he said, and there will be an application for bail pending the appeal.

He said he could not comment on the outcome of the sentencing because the issue is still before the court.

With files from CTV

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