Robin Camp's daughter says his support after her own rape shows he is no 'sexist brute'

The daughter of Justice Robin Camp, who says she has been raped herself, calls some of her father's comments during a sexual assault trial "disgraceful," but says that she stands behind him.

Lauren Camp says she experienced her dad's empathy first-hand and that he has learned from mistakes

Federal Court Justice Robin Camp arrives with his wife, Maryann, and daughter Lauren at a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry in Calgary. (Canadian Press)

For the latest developments, see 'He's not a misogynist, he's not a racist,' mentor says of Justice Robin Camp at inquiry

The daughter of Justice Robin Camp, who says she has been raped herself, calls some of her father's comments during a sexual assault trial "disgraceful," but says that she stands behind him.

In her letter of support presented to an inquiry examining the judge's conduct during a 2014 provincial court trial in Calgary, which could lead to his removal from the Federal Court, Lauren Camp said she's experienced her father's sensitivity first-hand, when she told him she had been raped in her own home.

"When I first told Robin what had happened, he was gentle and helpful," she wrote. 

"Although I'm sure he was disappointed with my decisions to not press charges, I know he understood how traumatic it would have been for me to take the case to court."

'Old-fashioned in some ways'

Camp is facing scrutiny for the way he conducted the 2014 trial, in which he repeatedly referred to the victim as "the accused" and asked her why she didn't fight harder to prevent the attack.

His daughter wrote that her father is "old-fashioned in some ways" and that "there are gaps in his understanding of how women think and experience life. But he is not an inherent or dedicated sexist."

She said some of his conduct in the case was hurtful for her to hear, but that she spoke to her father about the effect his words and actions had and she is convinced he is dedicated to change. 

"I have seen him advance in understanding and empathy for victims, vulnerable litigants and those who have experienced trauma," she wrote, adding these lessons will make him a better judge. 

She said he is not the "insensitive, sexist brute caricatured in the media these past few months."

Letters of support

Her letter is one of 24 submitted to the inquiry in support of Camp, including letters from colleagues, friends and those who have had professional dealings with him — including a psychiatrist sitting in on a previous sexual assault trial overseen by the judge. 

Many say Camp's conduct and comments during the trial were out of character and do not reflect their understanding of the man.

Some highlight his support of women trying to find balance between children and work, another points to his work against apartheid while he still lived in South Africa, while others highlight his openness to diversity, whether cultural, racial or sexual. 

Panel could remove judge

Elizabeth Aspinall, who provides confidential advice to lawyers as a practice adviser with the Law Society of Alberta, wrote that her view of Camp changed over time when she worked with him at JSS Barristers. 

"My regard for Justice Camp was not always as strong as it presently is. When he first joined JSS Barristers, I believed that Justice Camp held viewpoints — particularly towards women — that were traditional and outdated."

She said those assumptions were based on his "cadence, language and mannerisms, as well as the fact he was the primary income-earner in his family."

Aspinall said those assumptions proved to be inaccurate. 

"In our conversations since the complaint was issued, I have been struck by how humble and contrite he is. He even apologized to me for our past differences," she wrote.

"To me, Justice Camp showed insight into why his comments were wrong, and also into what led him to make them."

The Canadian Judicial Council inquiry, which is being conducted by a five-member panel, will hear evidence over the next several days in Calgary and could result in Camp being removed from the bench. 

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