Judge apologizes for 'keep your knees together' comment
An Alberta federal court judge who once asked an alleged sexual assault victim why she “couldn’t just keep (her) knees together” has apologized and will undergo sensitivity training, according to a statement from the Federal Court of Canada.
Justice Robin Camp was placed under review by the Canadian Judicial Council on Monday after a complaint was made by three law professors who said his treatment of the female complainant was appalling and showed disregard for the law.
The complaint refers to a trial that took place when Camp was still an Alberta provincial court judge, in which he acquitted a man of a sexual assault that was alleged to have taken place on a 19-year-old homeless woman.
During the trial, Camp asked the alleged victim – whom he mistakenly referred to as the "defendant" – things such as: "Why didn't you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn't penetrate you?” and “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”
According to a court transcript, Camp also said that "sex and pain sometimes go together (and) that's not necessarily a bad thing.”
A statement issued Tuesday from the Federal Court said Camp won't hear any cases involving sexual conduct during the CJC investigation and that he has volunteered to undergo gender sensitivity training on his own time and at his own expense.
The statement also included an apology from Camp that read:
“I have come to recognize that things that I said and attitudes I displayed during the trial of this matter, and in my decision, caused deep and significant pain to many people. My sincere apology goes out, in the first place, to the young woman who was the complainant in the matter.
“I also apologize to the women who experience feelings of anger, frustration and despair at hearing of these events. I am deeply troubled that things that I said would hurt the innocent. In this regard, I am speaking particularly to those who hesitate to come forward to report abuse of any kind and who are reluctant to give evidence about abuse, sexual or otherwise.
“To the extent that what I have said discourages any person from reporting abuse, or from testifying about it, I am truly sorry. I will do all in my power to learn from this and to never repeat these mistakes.”
University of Calgary law professor Alice Wooley, one of the three lawyers who complained to the Canadian Judicial Council, is calling Camp to be removed from the Federal Court bench.
“I have never seen any conduct as bad as this in my time as a lawyer or as an academic,” Wooley said. “It creates a risk that people won’t trust that they can go to court to solve their problem.”
Canadian Judicial Council executive director Norman Sabourin said although Federal Court judges cannot be removed without an order of Parliament, those under CJC review sometimes “realize the matter is grave” and “resign on their own.”
Camp was appointed to the Federal Court by former justice minister Peter MacKay in June. The job comes with a salary of more than $308,000.
With a report from CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks