A Canadian judge who asked an alleged rape victim why she hadn’t kept her knees together has apologised for his “unforgivable” comments, claiming he wasn’t trained to handle such a delicate case.
During the 2014 trial, among other things, Justice Robin Camp suggested the 19-year-old girl could have screamed if she was frightened during the alleged attack and claimed “some sex and pain sometimes go together… that’s not necessarily a bad thing”, according to court records.
On Friday, the South African-born 64-year-old told a panel of the Canadian Judicial Council that his knowledge of Canadian criminal law had been “nonexistent”, The Globe and Mail reports.
“My colleagues knew my knowledge of Canadian law was very minimal. It was nonexistent,” he said at the hearing.
“Please remember I wasn’t in this country through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.”
Camp apologised to the girl to whom the comments were made, the judiciary, other abuse victims and his family for his actions.
“The thing I feel worst about is the questions I asked the accused. That was unforgivable,” he said, continuing to mislabel the girl – who was the complainant – as the accused, an error he made repeatedly throughout her trial.
“I could plainly see she is a fragile personality. Her background has not been easy. I was rude and insulting.”
It was the first time Camp had spoken publicly about his handling of the case, which led to an online petition calling for him to lose his job.
He said he had been made aware of his unconscious bias towards women, describing it as “the prejudice that women all behave the same way and they should resist.”
Asked by two members of the panel why he hadn’t bothered to educate himself in sexual assault law, he replied: “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
The hearing concluded with the panel forwarding the matter onto the justice minister yesterday.
Camp will not be able to rule on sexual assault cases until the investigation is completed.