Canadian judge had 'non-existent' knowledge of laws

  • 12/09/2016
Justice Robin Camp
Justice Robin Camp

A Canadian judge who faulted a 19-year-old rape victim for not doing enough to defend herself and suggested she had wanted to have sex reportedly did not have any training on sexual assault law.

Justice Robin Camp sparked outrage last week after berating the teenager for not "closing her knees", and telling her "pain and sex sometimes go together" at a 2014 trial. He also called the woman "the accused" throughout the trial.

The woman had accused Alexander Scott Wagar of raping her over a bathroom sink at a house party.

Justice Camp faced a judicial panel hearing on Friday (local time) and could be taken off the bench.

Records show he did not receive any training on sexual assault law or how to preside over sexual assault trials.

He was born in South Africa, but came to Calgary in 1998. But his legal-aid practice focused mostly on contractual, bankruptcy and trust law, as well as oil and gas litigation.

He became an Alberta provincial court judge in 2012.

"My colleagues knew my knowledge of Canadian law was very minimal," he told members of the judicial panel on Friday. "It was non-existent.

"Please remember I wasn't in this country through the 1960s, '70s and '80s. I was in South Africa, where we had other issues.

"When I started on the bench I was given the 50 most important cases used by provincial criminal judges. I read sections of the commentary. I read the leading cases."

Justice Camp admitted to the hearing his experience in Canadian criminal law was "quite restricted".

He has since apologised for his comments, calling them "rude and insulting".

"At some level that I wasn't aware of, I was subject to prejudice... the prejudice that all women behave the same way and they should resist."

The case has been cited by women's rights campaigners as a prime example of why women fear to report cases of sexual abuse.

The victim says Justice Camp's comments made her "hate herself".

"I felt ill and dizzy and I hoped I would faint just so he would stop. I was so confused during the trial," she says.

"I'm so disappointed and sad about the system. My biggest worry is the victims who will never come forward because of what they read in the newspaper about Justice Camp's words."

Closing arguments will be made at the hearing on Monday before a recommendation is forwarded to the Canadian Judicial Council and then onto the Federal Justice Minister.