‘Knees to­gether’ judge says he’s changed

‘I still have con­tri­bu­tions to make,’ Camp tells re­in­state­ment hear­ing

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BILL KAUF­MANN

CAL­GARY Say­ing he’s a changed man since ques­tion­ing the con­duct of a sex­ual-as­sault com­plainant, for­mer judge Robin Camp said Tues­day he should be al­lowed to re­turn to life as a lawyer.

Camp, who re­signed as a fed­eral judge last March in the face of ex­pul­sion for ask­ing a 19-yearold woman in 2014 why she didn’t “keep her knees to­gether” dur­ing an al­leged sex­ual as­sault, told an Al­berta Law So­ci­ety panel that he’s grown from the ex­pe­ri­ence, aided by coun­selling.

“I learned I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was, I learned there was a whole area of life I knew noth­ing about … I learned kind­ness,” said the 65-year-old South Africa-born Camp.

“I still have con­tri­bu­tions to make as a lawyer, I have a good five or 10 years in me.”

He also said he wanted to de­liver a per­sonal apol­ogy to the woman in the con­tentious case, but was ad­vised not to.

And while he said the Cana­dian crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is sim­i­lar to that of South Africa’s, his na­tive coun­try’s ap­proach to sex­ual as­sault was more ar­chaic.

The Cana­dian Ju­di­cial Coun­cil had rec­om­mended Camp be re­moved from the bench for mak­ing a num­ber of con­tro­ver­sial state­ments in the Cal­gary sex­ual as­sault trial, in­clud­ing ask­ing why the com­plainant didn’t push her bot­tom into a bath­room sink to avoid in­ter­course with the ac­cused.

Camp also re­ferred to her sev­eral times as “the ac­cused.”

Those com­ments led to the re­trial of ac­cused Alexan­der Wa­ger, who was sub­se­quently ac­quit­ted a sec­ond time last Jan­uary.

Five wit­nesses tes­ti­fied be­fore the three-mem­ber panel that Camp was a com­pe­tent le­gal prac­ti­tioner and man of up­stand­ing char­ac­ter.

Le­gal ad­min­is­tra­tor Lau­reen Alar said he was an ex­em­plary boss dur­ing his time as a provin­cial court judge.

“He was al­ways po­lite, al­ways gen­tle­manly and re­spect­ful,” said Alar.

Al­though Camp voiced frus­tra­tion re­gard­ing the com­plaint over the sex­ual as­sault trial, she added: “He never said any­thing you could con­sider nasty, dis­crim­i­na­tory or hos­tile.”

Camp’s le­gal acu­men was solid and his char­ac­ter equally so, said Jus­tice Brian Bell, who was a col­league on the Fed­eral Court.

“I have seen noth­ing to lead me to be­lieve Camp har­bours ho­mo­pho­bic or sex­ist sen­ti­ments,” Bell said in re­sponse to queries by Camp’s lawyer, Alain Hep­ner.

Camp told the panel if re­in­stated as a lawyer, he’d pre­fer to prac­tise com­mer­cial, cor­po­rate and en­vi­ron­men­tal law.

He ruled out prac­tis­ing in the field of crim­i­nal law.

A law so­ci­ety lawyer asked Camp and the wit­nesses no ques­tions, adding the body is neu­tral on the mat­ter.

But so­ci­ety ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Don Thomp­son said the case would be weighed care­fully, though ad­mit­ted the body has no guide­lines on han­dling it.

“No one has any rec­ol­lec­tions of a judge re­turn­ing to prac­tise un­der these cir­cum­stances,” said Thomp­son.

The main ques­tion con­fronting the so­ci­ety, he said, is whether re­in­stat­ing Camp “will bring the le­gal pro­fes­sion into dis­re­pute.”

Hep­ner and the law so­ci­ety will pro­duce le­gal sub­mis­sions over the next month.

A de­ci­sion on re­in­state­ment to the law so­ci­ety will be ren­dered in the new year.

GAVIN YOUNG

Robin Camp, right, walks with his lawyer Alain Hep­ner Tues­day into a re­in­state­ment hear­ing at the Law So­ci­ety of Al­berta of­fices in Cal­gary. The so­ci­ety will de­cide on the is­sue in the new year.

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