An alleged rape victim asked by a judge why she did not close her knees for protection says the question made her hate herself.
"He made comments: Why didn't I close my legs or knees or put my ass in the sink. What did he get out of asking those kinds of questions? What did he expect me to say to something like that," the 24-year-old woman said, her voice breaking, to a hearing before a panel of the Canadian Judicial Council.
The complainant, who was a 19-year-old homeless addict at the time of the alleged rape in 2011, is at the heart of a hearing in which Federal Court Justice Robin Camp stands to lose his job over his conduct of a sexual-assault trial.
Justice Camp, 64, is a married father of three, including one daughter, Lauren-Lee Camp, who attended the hearing with her mother. In a letter of support heard on Tuesday, Ms. Camp said her father's comments were "disgraceful" and wounded her deeply – because she herself was a rape victim. But in a letter to the panel, she said her father "tackled his disgrace directly" and "now speaks with a new kind of sensitivity and understanding."
The complainant, now 24, is the lone witness called by lawyer Marjorie Hickey, whose role is to present the case to a five-member panel (three judges, two lawyers) that will decide whether Justice Camp has lost the confidence of Canadians. Most of the facts in the case are uncontested, and are drawn from a transcript of the hearing.
The complainant described herself as a member of the Cree Nation and said her mother had also been sexually assaulted. She said she was off drugs and had a job by the time of the trial in 2014. Justice Camp was a member of the Alberta Provincial Court when he made comments during the proceedings disparaging Canada's rape-shield law, which protects the right of complainants not to divulge their sexual history. The accused, a homeless youth, Alexander Wagar, was acquitted, but the Alberta Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, saying Justice Camp misunderstood the law of sexual assault and applied discredited stereotypes.
"He made me hate myself and he made me feel like I was some kind of slut," the complainant testified. "I felt ill and dizzy and I hoped I would faint just so he would stop. I was so confused during the trial." She said she worries other victims who read about Justice Camp's comments will not come forward.
The letter from Justice Camp's daughter is one of 22 presented to the panel that paint a portrait of the judge as a man who, far from treating women and minorities harshly, believes in equality, represented members of the African National Congress in South Africa, treats gay people equally and learns from his mistakes.
Ms. Camp, a published novelist, said her father is "the opposite of the insensitive, sexist brute caricatured in the media these past few months. … He is not an oaf, woman hater or a misogynist. He is staggered by the mistakes he made and is diligently examining his beliefs in an effort to improve his ability to be a judge."
She said that she was raped several years ago in her home by someone she knew, but did not press charges – fearing the court process would be traumatic. "When I told Robin what had happened, he was gentle and helpful. He ensured I knew my options and empathized with me. He encouraged me to work with a psychologist to help me decide how I wanted to proceed. Although I'm sure he was disappointed with my decision to not press charges, I know he understood how traumatic it would have been for me to take the case to court."
The Canadian Judicial Council, a body of senior judges, is conducting the hearing that began on Tuesday in Calgary. The council has held 11 public disciplinary hearings since it was created in 1971, and only two judges have been recommended for dismissal. Both resigned rather than face the required vote of the two houses of Parliament.
Ms. Camp said some of her father's words in the Wagar case "were disgraceful. They were wrong and extremely painful for me, as a victim, to hear about. But Robin has tackled his disgrace directly. He has always been a good father but now he speaks with a new kind of sensitivity and understanding. I have been able to talk with him about how his words in the Wagar case made me feel. We spoke again about my own sexual assault. This year, I confronted my rapist and sought out the apology I needed. Robin and I talked about how not all victims are lucky enough to be able to seek this kind of personal justice."
Frank Addario, a lawyer for Justice Camp, told the hearing that Justice Camp was "undereducated" in sex assault law, but does not believe women or minorities are less likely to tell the truth than any other witnesses. Mr. Addario will call witnesses – a leading judge, a psychologist and a feminist law professor – who spent time retraining Justice Camp after the trial.
Ms. Hickey, the hearing's "presenting counsel," said the key question is whether Justice Camp needs to be removed from the bench to preserve Canadians' confidence in the justice system.
But Mr. Addario countered that Justice Camp should not be punished for the justice system's historical failings involving women and sexual assault.