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article imageInquiry finds 'knees together' judge should be removed from bench

By Arthur Weinreb     Dec 1, 2016 in Crime
Calgary - A committee of the Canadian Judicial Council recommended Justice Robin Camp be removed from office for remarks he made during a 2014 sexual assault trial that included asking the complainant why she didn't just keep her knees together.
Yesterday, the Canadian Judicial Council released the recommendation of the committee that presided over the case of Justice Robin Camp in September. The five members, consisting of three superior court justices and two lawyers, were unanimous in their finding Camp should be removed from the bench.
Camp was appointed to the Federal Court of Canada in 2015. The comments that led to the inquiry were made the year before when Camp sat on the Alberta Provincial Court and presided over the case of Alexander Scott Wagar. Wagar was charged with the sexual assault of a 19-year-old homeless aboriginal woman. The sexual assault allegation was that of a rape.
The Canadian Judicial Council said the committee found comments Camp made during the trial were incompatible with the duties as outlined in the Judge’s Act. The committee also found comments and questions Camp made during the trial showed “an antipathy towards laws designed to protect vulnerable witnesses, promote equality, and bring integrity to sexual assault trials. As well, the committee found Camp relied on myths and stereotypes discredited long ago.
Camp acquitted Wagar of sexual assault. On appeal, the Alberta Court of Appeal set aside the finding of not guilty and ordered a new trial. The appellate judges doubted Camp understood sexual assault laws and accused him of using sexual stereotypes.
During the trial, the 19-year-old woman testified she was drunk when Wagar raped her in a sink. Camp asked her why she didn’t just keep her knees together. He also wondered why she could not have lowered herself into the sink to prevent penetration.
At one point during the trial, Camp asked the prosecutor if any particular words, such as those found in a marriage ceremony, were necessary to give consent to sex. Camp also noted the woman did not scream and said sometimes pain can be a good thing.
Throughout the trial, the judge kept referring to the complainant as “the accused.” As the Canadian Press reports, Camp kept calling the woman “the accused” during his testimony before the Canadian Judicial Council before correcting himself.
The comments Camp made throughout the trial were a matter of record were not disputed by the justice. Camp apologized and said he has taken courses to learn about sexual assault, factors that did not sway the committee.
Camp has the opportunity to send written submissions to the committee before they forward their recommendation to the Minister of Justice. If the Minister acts upon the recommendation, Camp can only be removed by a joint resolution of the House of Commons and the Senate. Other judges whose removal had been recommended all resigned before they could be removed from office.
More about justice robin camp, canadian judicial council, Why couldn't you just keep your knees together, Sexual assault
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