Justice

Judge's Courtroom Comments About Sexual Assault Demonstrate Why Women Are Hesitant to Report It

September 13th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

A judge's comments during a sexual assault case have offered a window into just how traumatic courtrooms can be for victims.

The remarks — exchanged during a 2014 rape trial — have garnered attention amidst a week-long judicial hearing for Canadian Federal Court Judge Robin Camp, who could be removed from the bench as a result of his conduct.

According to court records reported by CBS affiliate 5 News, Camp asked a 19-year-old alleged rape victim, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” during her trial, which was conducted while Camp was still a provincial judge.

Camp also asked why the woman — who claimed she was raped over a bathroom sink at a party — why she didn't “skew her pelvis” to stop the alleged assault or use the sink as leverage.

"Some sex and pain sometimes go together…that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Camp remarked during the proceedings.

“Young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk," he asserted at another point in the trial.

Judge Camp acquitted the defendant, whose case will be retried in November because Camp's verdict was overturned on appeal.

Camp also imparted this advice to the defendant as he delivered his decision:

“I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women. They have to be far more patient. And they have to be very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.”

It's no secret that the criminal justice system is no walk in the park for women who come forward with sexual assault allegations.

Victims of sexual assault often face re-traumatizing interviews with local police and are lambasted with character attacks from perpetrators' families and legal defense teams in the court room. And statistics show that sexual assault cases are severely underreported and under-prosecuted in the United States: 994 out of every 1000 rapists walks free, according to RAINN.

Most rapists never spend time in prison, according to RAINN.

As recent news stories have illustrated, even men convicted on sexual assault charges often receive infuriatingly lenient sentences that do little to encourage victims to come forward in the future.

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Camp, who was educated in South Africa, has since apologized to the victim and cited his lack of knowledge about Canadian law to justify his comments in a Friday hearing, 5 News reports.

The Canadian Judicial Council has yet to deliver his verdict, but said he “engaged in stereotypical or biased thinking in relation to a sexual assault complainant.”

Still, Camp's comments send a resounding message that rape victims are bound to face countless obstacles if they pursue justice in courts of law.

His words seem to confirm every victim's worst nightmare: that the deck is so stacked against them that even the judge presiding over their trial will will cruelly dismiss the trauma they've endured.

[h/t 5 News]