‘Why Couldn’t You Just Keep Your Knees Together?’: Judge Accused Of Disrespecting Teen Sexual Assault Victim

A Canadian federal judge, Robin Camp, is in hot water after being accused of “sexist and disrespectful” treatment of a young sexual assault victim. The judge is being investigated for acquitting Alexander Scott of sexual assault in September 2014 after berating the homeless teenage victim in the case with questions such as “why couldn’t you jut keep your knees together?” The judge’s ruling was later overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. Now, Judge Robin Camp is apologizing for his insensitive questioning and says he will undergo gender sensitivity counseling.

Court in Canada

The Daily Mail reports that Canadian Federal Judge Robin Camp will not be taking on any more cases involving sexual assault until an investigation into his conduct during a 2014 case is thoroughly reviewed. The judge is accused of berating a teen sexual assault victim with out-of-line questions. The judge was handling the case of Alexander Scott who was accused by a homeless, teen girl of sexual assault. The victim claimed that Scott assaulted her in a restroom at a house party by bending her over a sink and sexually assaulting her. However, the judge acquitted Scott of the charges after asking the teen girl why she didn’t keep her knees together or move where the assaulter couldn’t penetrate her.

“Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you? Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

As if those questions were not bad enough, the judge went on to tell the victim that she should have screamed. He says she could have used an ability she likely “learned on the streets” to tell the suspect to “fu** off.”

“If you were…frightened you could have screamed. She certainly had the ability, perhaps learnt from her experience on the streets, to tell [him] to f*** off.”

Furthering concerns that the judge was placing gender stereotypes on the sexual assault case, he reportedly told the young victim that “sex is often a challenge” for men and that by the victim asking the suspect to use a condom during the assault she was agreeing to the sexual encounter.

However, a group of four lawyers with Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary say the comments paint a picture of a judge that has no business at a sexual assault trial. They note that the case was full of “sexist and disrespectful” comments towards the teenage victim and that these gender stereotypes played a role in his ultimate decision to acquit the suspect of the charges.

“Indeed, the entire proceeding is threaded through with statements and questions by Justice Camp based on harmful stereotypes about women and sexual assault.”

The lawyers bringing the case against the judge say that judge Robin Camp’s statements made during the trial are offensive to the justice system and is responsible for the public questioning the fairness of the judicial system. In fact, the lawyers say that the judge’s actions and questions could prevent other women from coming forward to report sexual assault crimes for fear of this sort of treatment in court.

Beverley McLachlin

Meanwhile, the judge has agreed not to sit on any cases that involve sexual assault until the investigation is complete. He has also agreed, of his own free will, to attend gender sensitivity training. In fact, Camp allegedly personally apologized to the victim and said he was “truly sorry” to any women he may have discouraged from coming forward with a sexual assault claim.

“To the extent that what I have said discourages any person from reporting abuse, or from testifying about it, I am truly sorry. I will do all in my power to learn from this and to never repeat these mistakes.”

[Image via Andrew Balfour/Federal Court of Canada]