A committee of the Canadian Judicial Council has recommended a federal court judge be removed from the bench over controversial comments he made during a Calgary sexual assault trial two years ago.
Justice Robin Camp asked the 19-year-old complainant why she couldn’t “keep her knees together”.
Camp acquitted the accused in the sexual assault case. The verdict was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal and a new trial was ordered.
The inquiry committee found that Justice Camp’s comments were “destructive” to public safety and demonstrated an “antipathy towards laws designed to protect vulnerable witnesses”.
Kim Stanton is the executive director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. She said the committee sent a strong message.
“It’s a very strong message to other judges and legal actors and also to survivors,” Stanton said on Wednesday.
READ MORE: Firing Camp the “easy” thing to do: lawyer
Camp’s lawyers had argued during the hearing that his knowledge of Canadian law was “non-existent” at the time.
Camp was born in South Africa, but moved to Calgary in 1998. He was named an Alberta provincial court judge in 2012, but did not receive training on how to conduct sexual assault trials.
The committee found Justice Camp relied on “discredited myths and stereotypes about women and victim-blaming” throughout the trial and in his ruling.
Camp apologized for what he called “rude and insulting” comments during the hearing earlier this year.
“I was not the good judge I thought I was,” Camp said. “Canadians deserve more from their judges.”
But Stanton said Wednesday the apology did not go far enough.
“The public confidence in the judiciary was shaken by Judge Camp’s remarks and conduct,” Stanton said.
The Canadian Judicial Council will now go over the committee’s report and present its own recommendation to the Federal Minister of Justice.
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the recommendation an “important step” in reinforcing the way Canadian courts approach sexual assault cases.
“Asking for an inquiry was not a decision I took lightly. On reviewing the transcripts, I thought it was important that victims know this was not an acceptable way for any victim to be treated by the justice system.
The decision for a victim of sexual assault to come forward can be very challenging and it is crucial that they know they will be treated with respect and dignity and not subjected to sexual myths and stereotypes. “
Ganley said she is committed to ending victim-blaming and that Albertans must have confidence in their justice system.