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Judge under fire for asking sexual assault victim "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?"

Judge Robin Camp has apologised for comments such as “For a person who didn’t want have sex, she spends a long time in the shower with the accused…”

justice-robin-camp Judge Robin Camp Source: Federal Court of Canada

A SENIOR JUDGE in Canada has come under fire for comments he made to a female sexual assault victim, including asking her “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

Judge Robin Camp, who was recently promoted to the country’s Federal Court, is being investigated for his conduct during a case he heard last year.

In a joint complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council, this week, four law professors claimed Camp’s behaviour and comments had the potential to damage the country’s judiciary.

The events that form the basis for this complaint occurred when Justice Camp was a judge at the Alberta Provincial Court.
However, those events undermine public confidence in the fair administration of justice, both in general and in relation to Justice Camp’s current capacity for independence, integrity and impartiality, and his ability to respect the equality and dignity of all persons appearing before him.

The professors highlight the judge’s acquittal of Alexander Scott Wagar, last September, on charges of sexual assault brought against him by a homeless 19-year-old woman in Calgary.

That verdict was overturned by an Appeals Court judge who suggested Camp did not himself fully understand the meaning of consent in Canada’s sexual assault case law.

Furthermore, the complaint points to several examples of what it calls “sexist and disrespectful treatment” of the victim.

He asked the complainant questions such as “Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?” and “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”
He also indicated that she had not explained “why she allowed the sex to happen if she didn’t want it” and noted that when she asked the accused if he had a condom that was “an inescapable conclusion [that] if you have one I’m happy to have sex with you.”

Edmonton_Law_Courts_10 The Alberta Provincial Courts, where Judge Camp presided over the controversial 2014 sexual assault case. Source: 117Avenue/Wikimedia

When it was put to him by the prosecution lawyer that asking whether Wagar had a condom was not tantamount to giving consent, Judge Camp replied:

Please…we’re grown-ups here.

Camp also questioned why the victim had purportedly not demonstrated more fear or resistance during the incident, telling her, “If you were…frightened you could have screamed.

He also suggested that the victim “certainly had the ability, perhaps learnt from her experience on the streets, to tell [him] to fuck off.

Camp added:

For a person who didn’t want have sex, she spends a long time in the shower with the accused and went through a variety of sexual activities.

On Monday, the Canadian Judicial Council confirmed it would be formally reviewing Camp’s conduct and comments in the case.

In response, the Federal Court announced that no new sexual assault cases would go before Camp, and he would step away from any existing cases of that kind, while the review was under way.

Judge Camp would also be undergoing gender sensitivity counselling, and personally apologised for his comments.

I have come to recognize that things that I said and attitudes I displayed during the trial of this matter, and in my decision, caused deep and significant pain to many people.
My sincere apology goes out, in the first place, to the young woman who was the complainant in the matter.
I also apologize to the women who experience feelings of anger, frustration and despair at hearing of these events. I am deeply troubled that things that I said would hurt the innocent.
…I will do all in my power to learn from this and to never repeat these mistakes.

Read: Justice Barry White says he doesn’t believe judges need training in rape cases>

Read: Judge criticised for calling rape victim’s behaviour “inviting”>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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