Robin Camp, a court judge in Calgary, is now being reviewed by the Canadian Judicial Council for his insensitive and condescending behaviour during a 19 year old homeless woman’s testimony of her sexual assault. The victims’ abuser, Alexander Scott Wagar, was acquitted of the charges. This decision was appealed and overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. The judge who presided over the case in appeal court has serious concerns regarding how Robin Camp had handled the case and addressed the victim.
What exactly was said?
Judge Robin Camp made comments to the victim suggesting that she could have prevented the assault. Some of his comments included: “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?”
He also argued and she had failed to explain “Why she allowed the sex to happen if she didn’t want it?” He then continued on to inform her that asking if the accused had a condom implied “an inescapable conclusion (that) if you have one I’m happy to have sex with you.”
The above-noted comments not only encourage victim-blaming but also discourage victims from seeking justice. Many victims fear persecution by judges and often do not want to proceed with a case due to publicity. Although the victims name may not be released, the accused person’s name is released. Thus, if the accused is a relative, spouse, significant other or family member often people who know the accused can often figure out who the victim is. This in return deters victims from proceeding with legal action beyond mediation and settlements due to their fear of stigma and victim-blaming.
Since the decision was overturned, Judge Camp is now undergoing gender sensitivity training and is forbidden to preside over similar cases. He has since then apologized to the court and to women for his comments.
How prevalent is sexual assault?
A quick overview of Canadian statistics suggests that sexual assault is far more common than most individuals may suspect. These statistics are based on victims who come forward with their assaults but the numbers are likely much higher as most victims do not come forward with their story.
- Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
- 1 – 2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police
- 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
- 11% of women have physical injury resulting
- 60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17
- Over 80% of sex crime victims are women
- 17% of girls under 16 have experienced some form of incest
- 83% of disabled women will be sexual assaulted during their lifetime
- 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16
- half of all sexual offenders are married or in long term relationships
- 57% of aboriginal women have been sexually abused
- 1/5th of all sexual assaults involve a weapon of some sort
- 80% of assailants are friends and family of the victim
- 80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the home
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Points of Discussion:
1. How do you feel about how the Judge Camp handled the case?
2. How do you feel about the disciplinary action taken against Judge Camp?