Committee calls for Canadian Judge who told rape victim to “keep her knees shut” to be fired

Former Calgary-based provincial judge Robin Camp will likely be fired as a result of an investigation by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) into comments Camp made to a teenage rape victim, who was also homeless at the time. The judge notoriously told the 19-year-old rape victim to “keep her knees shut,” arguing that she could have avoided being raped had she just “skew[ed] her pelvis.” According to CJC documents, Camp also claimed the assault in question didn’t seem to involve “real force.” Throughout the trial, Camp consistently referred to the victim as “the accused,” as if to blame her for the assault, and suggested that she was only levying these accusations to get her attacker “in trouble.”

According to documents from the CJC’s investigation of Camp, he additionally reasoned that “sex and pain sometimes go together,” and that “young women want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk.” Alas, the CJC concluded that “Justice Camp’s conduct is so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the Judge incapable of executing the judicial office” and expressed “the unanimous view that a recommendation by the Council for Justice Camp’s removal is warranted.”

Camp’s lawyers consistently argued that Camp had a “strong moral compass” and was simply ignorant of the facts of sexual assault and needed to be educated, not removed. Whether or not Camp’s intent was to further traumatize and abuse a victim of rape and advance myths blaming rape on women’s sexuality rather than the men who choose to attack and degrade them, his ignorance directly resulted in this. To many, Camp’s blaming and shaming of the survivor highlighted why so many victims, especially those who might be suffering from PTSD, choose silence over reporting to dodge harassment and stigma.

Judges and people in positions such as Camp’s should already have taken it upon themselves to be educated in such important matters. And in not penalizing Camp in any way for his misogynistic, inexcusable comments and psychological abuse of a rape victim, the CJC would have sent the message that such behavior is fine as long as you plead ignorant. Still, despite the CJC’s recommendations, whether or not Camp will be removed is left to the discretion of Alberta’s minister of justice.

At the end of the trial, Camp acquitted the rape suspect, only for a new trial to be initiated for the 19-year-old victim, with a verdict slated for January 2017.

Good on Canada for taking action and removing a man with no grasp of the implications of sexual assault from power. As a nation that’s just elected a president who appears to be just as ignorant on the issue, maybe we in the U.S. could learn a thing or two.