Judge Who Asked Alleged Rape Victim ‘Why Couldn’t You Just Keep Your Knees Together’ Resigns

Hank Berrien,

On Thursday, a Canadian federal judge who once asked an alleged rape victim in court why she couldn’t “just keep your knees together” resigned.

As The Washington Post reports, the Canadian Judicial Council conducted a 15-month review, then issued a report concluding that Justice Robin Camp of the Alberta Federal Court should be removed.

In 2014, Camp asked a 19-year-old woman who alleged Alexander Wagar, 29, had raped her over a bathroom sink during a house party, “Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?” After she answered that she “was drunk” he asked, “And when your ankles were held together by your jeans, your skinny jeans, why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

During the trial, Camp kept referring to the woman as “the accused,” even suggesting she could have fended Wagar off. He also stated that young women “want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk,” and told the young woman, “some sex and pain sometimes go together” and “that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

The council’s report stated Camp’s conduct was “manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence,” adding, “Public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the judge incapable of executing the judicial office. The judge’s removal is warranted.”

Camp released a statement to “everyone who was hurt” by his comments.

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

Wagar’s accuser said she considered suicide after Camp’s remarks in court. She said, “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 slut.”

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Camp insisted his actions stemmed from a “deep-rooted” bias “that all women behave in the same way and should resist.”

canjudge_small Judge Who Asked Alleged Rape Victim 'Why Couldn’t You Just Keep Your Knees Together' Resigns Justice

Camp’s daughter, a rape victim, testified on behalf of her father; she termed his remarks “disgraceful,” but supported him, saying he had supported her after her rape.

She wrote, “I have seen him advance in understanding and empathy for victims, vulnerable litigants and those who have experienced trauma.”

Camp attempted to stay in his position by pointing out he had familiarized himself with Canada’s sexual assault laws, spoken with feminist scholars and sought sensitivity training.

But the council stood firm, writing, “He spoke in a manner that was at times condescending, humiliating and disrespectful . . . Having regard to the totality of the Judge’s conduct and all of its consequences, his apologies and efforts at remediation do not adequately repair the damage caused to public confidence.”