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“Knees Together” Comments from Rape Trial Judge May Cost Him Big

Camp

Robin Camp, a Canadian Federal Court Justice, should be removed from the bench after he asked a 19-year-old rape survivor why she didn’t do anything to protect herself during the alleged attack, according to the Canadian Judicial Council’s committee of inquiry.

The case in question took place in 2014 after the young woman accused Alexander Wagar, of Calgary, of raping her over a bathroom sink at a house party. During Wagar’s sexual assault trial, according to a notice of allegations posted on the Canadian Judicial Council website, Camp, who was a provincial court judge at the time, asked the young woman: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together? Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?”

According to the notice, the judge continued to castigate the young woman openly, suggesting that young women “want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk.” In a different part of the trial, he said that “[Some] sex and pain sometimes go together…that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

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Members of the Canadian Justice Council’s committee of inquiry take their seats. (Credit: Source.)

Camp would acquit Wagar in September 2014. “I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women,” he told Wagar at the time. “They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.” The Alberta Court of Appeal later overturned Camp’s ruling. Wagar’s second trial is underway. (Most recently, Pat Flynn, Wagar’s defense, claimed that the woman accusing him of sexual assault had a case of “buyer’s remorse.”)

The Canadian Judicial Council launched an investigation in November 2015 after four law professors filed a joint complaint against Camp, who later recused himself from hearing sexual assault cases. The following month, the Alberta attorney general also filed a formal complaint and referred the case to the inquiry committee.

On Tuesday, the committee of inquiry concluded that, throughout the trial, “Justice Camp made comments or asked questions evidencing an antipathy towards laws designed to protect vulnerable witnesses, promote equality, and bring integrity to sexual assault trials.” According to the committee’s 116-page report, Camp “relied on discredited myths and stereotypes about women and victim blaming during the trial and in his reasons for judgment.” The committee determined that Camp’s misconduct placed him in a position “incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge.”

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The survivor of the attack is seen here outside the Calgary Courts Centre. She cannot be identified due to a publication ban. (Credit: Source.)

The woman who survived the attack, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was the first to testify at the inquiry, telling the committee that the judge’s comments “made me hate myself” and that Camp “made me feel like I should have done something, like I was some kind of slut.”

At a hearing in September, Camp, who grew up in South Africa, claimed he had a “nonexistent” knowledge of Canadian criminal law at the time of the trial. “My colleagues knew my knowledge of Canadian law was very minimal…” he said. “Please remember I wasn’t in this country

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  • Alan is a writer and editor who lives in New York City. His work has been featured in such publications as Salon, The Advocate, Plus Magazine, The Huffington Post, Spoiled NYC, Towleroad, Distractify, Elite Daily, and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film.

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