Canadian judge Robin Camp has apologized for asking a rape victim why she “didn’t just keep her knees together,” but calls for his removal from the bench continue.
As Huffington Post Canada reports, the incident took place in 2014, but is now gaining attention because he just last week appeared before a panel that will help decide whether or not he will keep his job.
— bmaggiemay (@bmaggiemay) September 7, 2016
Back in 2014, Camp was presiding over a rape trial involving two homeless youths. The alleged victim, identified only as “R,” claimed she had been raped by 19-year-old Alex Wagar over a sink in a Calgary bathroom during a party, according to The Globe and Mail. Throughout the trial, Camp mistakenly referred to the alleged victim as “the accused.” But perhaps the most egregious abuse of the alleged victim came as Camp was questioning her about the assault.
“Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?… And when your ankles were held together by your jeans, your skinny jeans, why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”
The stunned plaintiff uttered no words, and could only shake her head.
Later in the trial, Camp told the rape victim that “pain and sex go together sometimes.”
— CBC Radio (@cbcradio) September 7, 2016
Ultimately, Camp decided that the defendant’s testimony was more credible than the victim’s, and the defendant was acquitted.
The victim appealed, according to The Washington Post, and an appellate court threw out Camp’s ruling. A second trial for Wagar is scheduled for November 2016.
Following the trial, Camp continued to preside over other criminal cases, and the trial in which he antagonized a rape victim went more-or-less unnoticed, according the Post. It wasn’t until November 2015 that four law professors filed a complaint against him. He recused himself from further cases involving alleged sex crimes while the Canadian Judicial Council launched an investigation.
According to Metro News, Camp, who was born and raised in South Africa, began practicing law in Canada in 1998. Initially he operated a legal-aide practice that only included some criminal cases; as his career progressed his practice focused mostly on bankruptcy, trust, and other civil matters.
Regardless of his “non-existent” knowledge of Canadian criminal law, he was appointed to the bench in Alberta provincial court in 2012.
“My colleagues knew my knowledge of Canadian law was very minimal. It was non-existent. I think it’s become apparent that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
At a hearing last week before a panel of three judges and two lawyers, Camp’s daughter, Lauren Camp, who claims to have herself been a rape victim, denied that her father is hostile to alleged rape victims.
“I have seen him advance in understanding and empathy for victims, vulnerable litigants and those who have experienced trauma.”
And while conceding that her father could be “a bit old-fashioned” in his thinking, she claimed that he is not a sexist.
The rape victim, for her part, doesn’t see things that way.
“He made me feel like I should have done something, like I was some kind of a slut.”
For his part, Camp admitted that he should have chosen his words better.
“The thing I feel worst about is the questions I asked of the… complainant.”
The committee that heard the case against Camp will forward its findings to the full Canadian Judicial Council, which will then present its own recommendations to the federal justice minister. As of this writing, there is no timetable for when the matter will be settled once and for all.
Do you think Judge Robin Camp should lose his law license for asking a rape victim why she didn’t keep her knees together?
[Image via Shutterstock/sebra]