Woman judge told to keep ‘knees together’ testifies at hearing

‘He made me hate myself,’ complainant tells judicial hearing Tuesday for Justice Robin Camp

CALGARY – A woman who was asked whether she could have kept her knees closed by an Alberta judge during a sexual assault trial says she contemplated suicide as a result of her experience.

“He made me hate myself and he made me feel like I should have done something … that I was some kind of slut,” said the slight young woman, choking back tears at the judicial hearing Tuesday for Justice Robin Camp.

Camp’s comments while he was a provincial judge in Calgary in 2014 led the Alberta Appeal Court to order a new trial for the man he acquitted.

Court transcripts show Camp questioned the woman’s morals, suggested her attempts to fight off the man were feeble and described her as “the accused” throughout the trial.

He said to her: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” and said “pain and sex sometimes go together.”

“He made comments asking me why didn’t I close my legs or my ankles together. … What did he expect me to say to something like that?,” she said softly.

“I hate myself that I let that happen and I let that judge speak to me that way.”

The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said after the verdict she just “got high for days” and just wanted to be herself again.

The Canadian Judicial Council committee is considering whether Camp should be removed from the bench because of his remarks in the case.

In a letter submitted to the committee in support of her father, Camp’s daughter Lauren revealed that she had been a victim of a sexual assault in her own home a number of years ago.

“Some of the words used by Robin in the case were disgraceful. They were wrong and extremely painful for me, as a victim, to hear about,” wrote Lauren Camp.

“But Robin has tackled his disgrace directly. He has always been a good father, but now he speaks with a new kind of sensitivity and understanding.”

She urged the panel to recommend her father be allowed to remain a judge so he can put his new-found understanding and empathy to good use.

Lawyer Marjorie Hickey, who is presenting evidence on behalf of the judicial council, said the committee will consider the comments that Camp made, as well as the impact they have had on the community.

Camp’s lawyer Frank Addario said his client has taken steps to remedy his behaviour.

“He is not perfect, but he is a good judge,” said Addario.

“The evidence will show Justice Camp, immediately after the complaint was lodged, apologized and took steps to interrogate his beliefs and to challenge his assumptions,” he said.

“The evidence will show that he has reformed in his thinking and is sorry for his failing. His is an ethical and empathetic judge.”

The review committee will make recommendations to the full judicial council.

If it decides Camp should be removed from the bench, the final decision lies with the federal justice minister.

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