‘Sex and pain sometimes go together’: Judge faces possible career ruin over rape trial comments

EDMONTON — ’s career rise after immigrating to had been quick, even meteoric: He was named an Alberta provincial court judge in 2012, with just 13 years at the provincial bar following decades as a lawyer in South Africa and Botswana. Three years later, last June 26, he was promoted again, to the Federal Court of .

Now, he faces career ruin, fighting for his job in the face of a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council of a trial he heard in September, 2014.

A transcript reveals an entire trial “threaded through” with Camp’s outdated — and sometimes illegal — interpretation of Canadian sexual assault law, according to the four law professors who launched the complaint against Camp.

The professors, from the Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary, argue the proceedings abounded with “myths,” “stereotypes,” and an alarming degree of bias from the bench, and warned that the judge has thrown the entire Canadian justice system “into disrepute.”

“This was not a case of mere judicial error,” reads the complaint. At many points, Camp’s biases constituted an open defiance of Canadian law, they say.

Section 276 of the Criminal Code explicitly forbids a court from hearing evidence of a victim’s prior sexual history in order to determine whether they are “more likely to have consented to the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge.”

‘Sex and pain sometimes go together, that — that’s not necessarily a bad thing’

Nevertheless, at trial Camp allowed the defence attorney to question the victim about whether she had been flirting with attendees at the Calgary house party before the alleged assault occurred — and whether “she was physically able to deal with” a possible rapist.

“The law doesn’t stop people thinking,” Camp told Crown prosecutor Hyatt Mograbee when she raised one of many objections during the trial.

At another point, he refers to Section 276 as “very, very incursive legislation.”

According to transcripts, Camp also said that since the complainant was drunk, there was an “onus on her to be more careful.” He referred to the alleged as a “misbehav[iour]” on the part of the accused.

If the homeless 19-year-old victim had truly been frightened of her 240-lb. alleged rapist as events unfolded in a bathroom on December, 2011, Camp said, wouldn’t she have screamed?

Perhaps the accused had been a little rough, but “sex is very often a challenge,” the judge told prosecutors.

And when the victim said the experience had been physically painful, Camp countered that a bit of vaginal pain was perfectly natural.

“Sex and pain sometimes go together, that — that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.

Most notable was Camp directly telling the alleged victim that if she didn’t want to be penetrated, “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” From court transcripts, the question only gets a muted “I don’t know” from the complainant.

“I am stunned that any judge today has these views,” said Alice Woolley of the University of Calgary, one of the professors challenging Camp. “It was both that he has these views that are odd, but also that he was so aggressive in expressing them to the complainant.’’

The accused, Alexander Wagar of Calgary, ultimately walked free with a warning not to “upset women and get into trouble.” The case is now set to be retried after it was decisively overturned on appeal.

‘Is there not a possibility that a very unhappy thing happened here? Two young people made love, and somebody came afterwards and poisoned the girl’s mind?’

The transcript, which has since been carefully examined by Camp’s critics, is notable for the often-combative tone that Camp takes with Mograbee.

The complainant had at one point asked her alleged assailant if he had a condom, which Camp said had led him to the “inescapable conclusion” that the woman had wanted sex.

When Mograbee tried to object, Camp shot back “please, Ms. Mograbee, we’re grown ups here.”

At another point, Mograbee said the judge was exercising ”antiquated thinking” in asserting that the complainant’s story was less believable since she had not immediately reported the alleged rape to authorities.

“I hope you don’t live too long, Ms. Mograbee,” he responded.

When Wagar took the stand, Camp delivered a lengthy speech advising the accused to tell his friends “that they have to be far more gentle with women.”

“To protect themselves, they have to be very careful,” he said. “You’ve got to be really sure that she’s saying yes … so remind yourself every time that you get involved with a girl from now on and tell your friends, okay?”

Before proceedings had even wrapped, the judge was openly speculating that the complainant had concocted the charge out of spite.

“Is there not a possibility that a very unhappy thing happened here? Two young people made love, and somebody came afterwards and poisoned the girl’s mind?” he said.

In its 47-page decision—issued just after Camp was elevated to the Federal Court—the Alberta Court of Appeal wrote that Camp had based his judgment on “stereotypes and myths, opinions not grounded in the evidence, and a distorted view of legislation meant to protect sexual assault victims.”

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Camp had implied that “a woman cannot be raped against her will,” that “upset women fabricate sexual assault allegations,” and overall had a “flawed understanding of ‘consent.’”

Woolley noted that Camp’s alleged biases may not have been evident when he was first pegged for the Federal Court, but her group’s complaint asserts that he has a “profoundly compromised” ability to deal with issues of “race, gender, and disadvantage” put before the court.

In a Tuesday statement, the Federal Court said it intends to keep Camp on the bench, but will steer him away from all cases involving “sexual conduct.”

And Camp, for his part, vowed to “undertake a program of gender sensitivity.”

“I have come to recognize that things that I said and attitudes I displayed during the trial of this matter, and in my decision, caused deep and significant pain to many people,” he said in a written statement this week.

For now, it will up to Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin whether Camp will be subject to a probe by the Canadian Judicial Council.

The removal of a sitting judge is extremely rare in Canada, and federal can only be removed through an act of Parliament. However, in the rare instance Canadian Judicial Inquiry has recommended the removal of a judge, it typically prompts the judge’s resignation.

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