A Canadian judge has resigned hours after the country’s legal disciplinary body recommended that he should be removed from the bench.
Robin Camp had been presiding over a 2014 trial into rape allegations when he made a number of startling comments to the defendant, resulting in widespread condemnation and accusations of victim-blaming.
During the case, Camp repeatedly asked the 19-year-old victim why she had not attempted to do more to prevent the alleged rape, culminating in the statement – “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”
Further on in the case, Camp told the victim of the sexual assault that “sex and pain sometimes go together.”
And after she had told the court that the assault took place in a bathroom sink, the judge asked her why she had not tried to force her “bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you”.
There has been a 15-month inquiry into the case and Camp’s conduct, and this week the Canadian Judicial Council announced that it had come to a decision – one which recommended that Camp should be removed from the bench.
It came to the conclusion that Camp had blatantly allowed misconceptions and stereotypes towards women to cloud his judgement, and the way he had spoken to the defendant, who was homeless when the assault took place, was “condescending, humiliating and disrespectful.”
The victim told the inquiry that she had been left to deal with suicidal thoughts after Camp’s treatment of her in the courtroom. “What did he get from asking that?” she asked. “He made me hate myself and he made me feel like I should have done something … that I was some kind of slut.”
The final decision was made despite the fact that a clearly troubled Camp had led a remorseful campaign to try and atone for his misdemeanours. He stated that he was “not the good judge [he] thought [he] was,” and underwent a series of counselling sessions with feminist scholars to attempt to learn how to deal with the sensitive issues that surrounded cases like these.
The Council’s mind was made up, however, and last week, 19 of the 23 judges voted to pass a recommendation removing Camp from his position. “He showed obvious disdain for some of the characteristics of the regime enacted by parliament in respect of sexual assault issues,” the council noted in its report.
The judge’s behaviour “was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the judge incapable of executing the judicial office”.
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