Canadian Federal Judge Robin Camp has resigned after a disciplinary council recommended he be removed from the bench following his offending comments to a woman during a rape trial.
Justice Robin Camp, “knees together” judge, resigns from bench after Canadian Judicial Council recommends removal: https://t.co/RgKTHfqvKy pic.twitter.com/x8MUmtyBLi
— Yahoo Canada (@YahooCanada) March 9, 2017
CNN reported that the South African-born judge asked the woman during the rape trial why she couldn’t keep her knees together. Not only did the judge suggest she should have been able to fend off her alleged attacker by keeping her knees together, he also asked her why she wasn’t able to avoid penetration by “skewing her pelvis.” Camp asked the woman why she didn’t “just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you,” saying that she could have avoided the attack if she had turned her pelvis “slightly” away.
These comments were made by Camp when he was a Provisional Court Judge in 2014. He then went on to become a Federal Judge in 2015. The judge also made further offensive comments.
“Some sex and pain sometimes go together. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
On acquitting the accused man, Camp offered him some advice.
“I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women. They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.”
These shocking comments came to light when the acquittal was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. However, the man was again found not guilty, which the judge said simply contributed to his claim that the accused deserved another chance.
— Joe Lofaro (@giuseppelo) March 9, 2017
Judge Camp told the disciplinary council that his comments were due to an “unconscious bias,” at which time he apologized, saying he was remorseful and amenable to rehabilitation. However, the Canadian Judicial Council was not convinced, and in its report, it stated the following.
“We find that the judge’s conduct, viewed in its totality and in light of all of its consequences, was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the judge incapable of executing the judicial office.”
Of the 23 judges on the Canadian Judicial Council, only four voted against the motion to remove Camp. The council also adopted findings from another inquiry where dismissal was recommended. They found that the judge “relied on discredited myths and stereotypes about women and victim-blaming,” saying that his comments revealed “antipathy” toward laws meant to protect vulnerable witnesses.
At his hearing in December 2016, the judge said he had received no training on sexual assault cases and that he had a non-existent knowledge of Canadian criminal law. He went on to say that he focused mostly on bankruptcy and contract cases. Announcing his resignation, Camp made a broad apology to everyone who was hurt by his comments during the rape trial.
“I thank everyone who was generous and kind to me and my family in the last 15 months, particularly my legal team. I will not be answering media inquiries today.”
According to NPR, the furor resulting from the “knees together” comments in the rape case resulted in the offending Canadian judge resigning, shortly after the Canadian Judicial Council issued its recommendation this week.
The “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together” comment sparked outrage. The 2014 rape trial, which resulted in the judge’s resignation, occurred when Camp was serving on the Alberta Provincial Court. The sexual assault allegations were made by a complainant described by the Judicial Council as a vulnerable 19-year-old woman. Sometimes Camp referred to the woman as “the accused,” saying he saw no signs of an attack. Several times he suggested that sexual contact could have physically been avoided, saying that if she had skewed her pelvis slightly, she could have avoided him. During the rape trial, Camp had some advice for the woman.
“Sex and pain sometimes go together. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sex is very often a challenge.”
According to the trial transcript, Camp also said that young women want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk. The judge also had some advice for the accused in the case.
“You’ve got to be very sure that the girl wants you to do it. Please tell your friends so that they don’t upset women and so that they don’t get into trouble. We’re far more protective of women — young women and older women — than we used to be and that’s the way it should be.”
According to the judicial council, Camp “engaged in stereotypical or biased thinking” and “relied on flawed assumptions.”
It’s interesting to note that, despite an uproar over Camp’s conduct during the 2014 rape trial, he was appointed to the Federal Bench the following summer by Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
Robin Camp is not the story here; ***Peter MacKay*** is the story here. Keep your focus on the ball, kids. pic.twitter.com/F4xcmO2DpJ
— CC (@canadiancynic) March 10, 2017
Law professor Alice Woolley from the University of Calgary, and others, filed complaints about the judge’s behavior in the criminal rape trial, and several online petitions called for his removal.
On receiving Camp’s resignation on Thursday, Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould made the following statement.
“From my perspective as minister, and the perspective of our government, sexual assault and gender-based violence is in no form acceptable. And we will continue to stand up for victims of sexual assault and gender-based violence and accord them the necessary respect and dignity that they deserve.”
Judge Camp tried to defend himself by saying that he was ignorant or had an unconscious bias, but his attempts to educate himself and his apologies were enough to warrant staying on the Bench. Fortunately, the Judicial Council did not agree, saying that his questioning of the alleged victim was not simply statements of clarification; that the judge spoke in a manner that was at times condescending, humiliating, and disrespectful.
Camp’s resignation took effect on Friday, and by resigning, he won’t be eligible for any payout or pension.
— CBC Toronto (@CBCToronto) March 10, 2017
The Calgary News reports that the victim who had her actions questioned by Camp is pleased with the resignation, saying she has waited a long time to hear that he won’t be presiding over any other rape trials.
“I’m just really happy and proud of myself. Just proud that I made a small difference in how judges treat victims. I was feeling so unhopeful and down and not very hopeful about the justice system. It has turned around by this.”
The woman said she felt so browbeaten by Camp that she considered suicide.
“What did he get from asking that. He made me hate myself and he made me feel like I should have done something, like I was some kind of a sl*t.”
[Featured Image by everything possible/Shutterstock]