Robin Camp, who berated sex assault complainant, says counselling will make him a better judge


Federal Court justice will fight to keep his job at judicial council hearing in September

By Alison Crawford, CBC News Posted: Jul 04, 2016 12:40 PM ET



The Canadian Judicial Council will hold a public hearing in September into the conduct of Federal Court Justice Robin Camp, dating back to when he presided over a 2014 sexual assault case as an Alberta provincial court judge. (Andrew Balfour/Federal Court of Canada)

Federal Court Justice Robin Camp agrees in his submission to the Canadian Judicial Council that he made insensitive and inappropriate comments during a 2014 sexual assault trial, but wants to keep his job.

Camp insists he'll be a better judge after undergoing training and counseling with a judge, psychologist and expert on the law of sexual assault, "with a view to interrogating his beliefs and improving his understanding of the law, the social context of sexual violence and the psychological impact of sexual assault."

All three professionals will testify at a public hearing in Calgary into the judge's conduct. It's scheduled for seven days in early September. 

The case in question involved the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman by a Calgary man. She had accused him of raping her over a bathroom sink during a house party. 

During the trial, Camp repeatedly and erroneously called the woman "the accused" and asked her, "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" and, "Why didn't you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn't penetrate you?"

A five-person committee of judges and lawyers will recommend whether Camp should remain on the bench at the Federal Court even though the conduct in question occurred when he was a provincial court judge in Calgary.

The hearing was called after the CJC was deluged with public complaints after the judge's offensive comments surfaced last year. 

The judge's notice of response, filed with the CJC, explains that Camp understands his comments were hurtful to survivors of sexual assault and to Canadians in general. It goes on to say Camp wishes to continue to serve as a judge because he believes he can make a positive contribution as a member of the judiciary.

"He believes his training, counselling and this process as a whole have left him better equipped to judge cases with the empathy, wisdom and sensitivity to social context to which all judges aspire," the document says. "He now understands that some of his prior thinking was infected with stereotypical beliefs and discredited myths."

As for the six allegations facing the judge that focus on his comments about Canada's rape shield law, the female complainant and Crown prosecutor, the notice of response makes it clear Camp agrees they were insensitive and inappropriate, but that he did not engage in any biased reasoning. The document says he will make several more apologies.

"Justice Camp agrees that his comment to the Crown that 'I hope you don't live too long' was rude and derogatory. For this he will apologize unreservedly."

At the original trial, Camp acquitted Scott Wagar of sexual assault, but Alberta's Court of Appeal overturned the ruling last year and ordered a new trial. Wagar was rearrested in May.

Camp's hearing will begin Sept. 6.