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Judge resigns over rape trial comment: ‘Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?’



Judge resigns over rape trial comment: ‘Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?’

On Thursday, a 64-year-old Canadian federal judge who asked an alleged rape victim in court why she couldn’t “just keep your knees together” resigned after a judicial panel released a scathing report calling for him to be removed from office.

In 2014, Justice Robin Camp of the Alberta Federal Court came under fire for badgering the woman during trial about whether she could have done more to defend herself against the man she claimed had raped her. Camp presided over the sexual assault trial of Alexander Wagar, a 29-year-old Calgary man. The accuser was identified as a 19-year-old woman who said Wagar had raped her over a bathroom sink during a house party.

Throughout the trial, Camp falsely referred to the woman as “the accused” and suggested she could have staved off the alleged attack.

“Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” Camp asked at one point.

He later said that young women “want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk,” and told the accuser that “some sex and pain sometimes go together” and “that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Camp also questioned why the woman 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.

After receiving dozens of complaints from the public, the Canadian Judicial Council conducted a 15-month review of the exchange.

In its report Thursday, the council found that Camp’s conduct was “manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence.”

“Public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the judge incapable of executing the judicial office,” the council wrote. “The judge’s removal is warranted.”

Within hours, Camp said he would step down. He apologized in a statement to “everyone who was hurt” by his comments. According to the BBC, Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould accepted his resignation, saying she was confident he had received due process.

“Sexual assault and gender-based violence is in no form acceptable and we will continue to stand up for victims,” she said.

In September 2014, Camp acquitted Wagar, but an appeals court overturned the ruling. In January 2017, Wagar was acquitted again in his retrial, with a new judge finding that there was reasonable doubt that he had sexually assaulted the woman.

The Canadian Judicial Council opened an investigation in November 2015, after a group of law professors filed complaints against Camp. Dozens of other complaints from members of the public, and Camp went on to recuse himself from cases involving sex crimes, as reported by The Washington Post.

Wagar’s accuser said she felt so browbeaten by Camp that she considered suicide.

“What did he get from asking that,” she said. “He made me hate myself and he made me feel like I should have done something, like I was some kind of a slut.”


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