Manitoba

Manitoba judge won't hear sex-related cases

A Manitoba judge under fire for comments made in a recent sex-assault case ruling won't hear cases of a sexual nature until the outcome of complaints made to the Canadian Judicial Council have been decided.

Chief justice cites 'obvious public concern'

A Manitoba judge under fire for comments made in a recent sex-assault case ruling won't hear cases of a sexual nature until the outcome of complaints made to the Canadian Judicial Council have been decided.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Dewar ignited a firestorm of criticism last week when it was revealed he said "sex was in the air" when sparing a man jail time by handing him a two-year conditional sentence and allowed him to remain free in the community.

That and other comments prompted a public rally outside the Manitoba Law Courts where protesters called for Dewar's resignation from the bench. On that day, the provincial government said it would launch a complaint with the Canadian Judicial Council about the decision.

A spokesperson said Tuesday it has yet to do so as it is awaiting transcripts of the sentencing hearing.

In a statement issued by Chief Justice Justice Glenn Joyal, he acknowledged the "obvious public concern" the case – and resulting media attention – has brought with it.

"Justice Dewar continues to sit as a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench, but he has agreed that pending the outcome of the complaints before the Canadian Judicial Council he will not be assigned criminal cases of a sexual nature," Joyal said in a statement.

During the sentencing hearing, Dewar 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.

Kenneth Rhodes and a friend met the woman, who is now 25, and her girlfriend earlier that night outside a bar under what Dewar called "inviting circumstances."

The judge pointed out the victim and her friend were dressed in tube tops, no bras and high heels and noted they were wearing plenty of makeup.

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

Joyal's statement said although the public's concern was acknowledged, it would be inappropriate for the judiciary to make any other comment at this time.