Manitoba

Attacker appeals Dewar sex-assault decision

A man at the centre of a controversial sexual assault case that prompted angry complaints about a Manitoba judge launches an appeal of his conviction believing there was no evidence to back it up.

A man at the centre of a controversial sexual assault case that prompted angry complaints and public protests about a Manitoba judge has launched an appeal of his conviction believing there was no evidence to back it up.

Kenneth Rhodes of Thompson is asking the court of appeal to throw out the sexual assault conviction handed to him by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Dewar.

Dewar ignited a firestorm of protest due to comments he made in his Feb. 18 decision where he said "sex was in the air" when sentencing Rhodes to a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community.

The judge also commented on the way the woman was dressed and her actions the night she was forced to have sex by a man in the woods along a dark highway outside Thompson, Man., in 2006.

Dewar called the man a "clumsy Don Juan" who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted.

"This is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behaviour," he said.

Rhodes believes there was no basis for Dewar to convict him in the first place.

"The verdict was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence," Rhodes states in appeal documents filed this week.

Rhodes believes Dewar made two specific legal errors in his decision to find him guilty of sexual assault, according to the appeal documents.

In his sentencing decision, Justice Robert Dewar said the man who was convicted of sexual assault may have misunderstood what the victim wanted. ((Department of Justice Canada))
He also suggests the judge was wrong to convict him, because he honestly believed he had the victim's consent to have sex with her.  

"The judge erred in law in misapplying the test for honest but mistaken belief in consent," Rhodes said.

No date to hear the appeal has been set, but will likely be heard on the same day of a Crown appeal in the case.

The Crown has said it believes Dewar improperly found the victim's conduct reduced Rhodes's culpability and is asking for a "fit sentence" to be imposed on Rhodes.

The Crown was seeking three years of prison in the case.

The Canadian Judicial Council is investigating complaints about Dewar's comments. Dewar is currently not hearing cases of a sexual nature until the complaint process has concluded.