Canadian Judge Who Asked Woman in Rape Case Why She Couldn’t ‘Keep Her Knees Together’ Should Be Fired: Committee


Federal Court Judge Robin Camp is in the midst of a week-long judicial council hearing, which will determine whether he ought to be booted from his position.
(Credit: Andrew Balfour/Federal Court)

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A disciplinary body says a federal judge in Canada should be booted from his position for asking a woman in a rape case in Alberta why she couldn’t “just keep [her] knees together.”

If the Justice Minister goes with the body’s recommendation, Judge Robin Camp will become the first federally appointed judge to be kicked off the bench.

The Inquiry Committee of the Canadian Judicial Council said the judge’s comments showed “antipathy” toward laws that are meant to protect vulnerable witnesses and that he “relied on discredited myths and stereotypes about women and victim-blaming.”

The case in question took place in 2014 when Camp was a provincial court judge. (He became a Federal Judge last year.)

The 19-year-old woman said she was raped over a bathroom sink during a house party.

According to records of the trial, Camp asked her why she didn’t “skew her pelvis” or push her bottom into the sink to avoid penetration. He openly wondered, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

On the subject of sex in general, and sex with young women in particular, he said, “Young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk.”

In a different part of the trial, he said “Some sex and pain sometimes go together…that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Camp, 64, ultimately acquitted the man charged with the crime, and then told him:

“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.”

The verdict was overturned on appeal.

‘Minimal’ knowledge of Canadian law

These and other moments from the trial led the Canadian Judicial Council to open its investigation.

Testifying at the hearing, Camp offered this defense for his comments: “a non-existent” knowledge of Canadian criminal law.

The South African-born judge said he didn’t receive training on sex assault cases. In his legal career, he focused mostly on contract and bankruptcy cases, he said.

“My colleagues knew my knowledge of Canadian law was very minimal. It was non-existent,” he said at one hearing. “Please remember I wasn’t in this country through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.”

He also apologized to the woman for his comments, calling them “rude and insulting.”

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