Student group to file complaint against MB judge

Justice Dewar spared rapist jail time because victim sent signals that ‘sex was in the air’


The Canadian Federation of Students says it will file a complaint against Manitoba judge Robert Dewar over his handling of a sexual assault case. Dewar spared convicted rapist Kenneth Rhodes jail time and commented that the victim had sent signals that “sex was in the air” and further commented on the fact that the woman had been wearing a tube top, high heels and lots of makeup.

Related:Falsies don’t mean yes

While the Crown was seeking a three-year jail term for Rhodes, the judge handed down a two-year conditional sentence, arguing that “Not all guilty people are morally culpable to the same level.” On Thursday afternoon, student and community activists rallied outside the Manitoba Law Courts building, chanting “Yes means yes and no means no,” while demanding Dewar resign his post, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

The Canadian Judicial Council has received several complaints against Dewar. CFS-Manitoba chair Alanna Makinson said the organization will be filing its own complaint. “These statements by Judge Dewar are reinforcing the myth of implied consent and the myth that the victim of sexual assault is ultimately responsible for their own victimization,” she said.

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Student group to file complaint against MB judge

  1. It would be problematic to see Judge Dewar disciplined for his remarks. In fact it could strike a blow to judicial independence. While his comments are unpopular with women’s groups, they do not amount to the extremely high threshold of judicial misconduct. Judges must be given significant latitude in making their decisions, however unpopular some may be. This is a fundamental tenet of the rule of law. Appellate courts exist as a means to correct faulty judgements. This is a case where the judge, apparently not coming from a criminal law backgroud made a possibly incorrect decision. Until the judgement is available on CanLII or QuickLaw, it is unfair to jump to any conclusions.

  2. No person should be entitled to comment on Judge Dewar’s ruling if they have seen nothing more than those few of his comments which have been published, all of them stripped of their context. Can McLean’s PLEASE post a link to his ENTIRE ruling?

  3. Judges are idiots crooks and should be sent to jail as soon as they breach the law, a demeanour they engage every single day !

  4. William: Dewar has no criminal justice background. Until this posting (less than two years ago), he worked with corporate litigation. There is an established guideline for people convicted of rape, and that guideline factors in a clear criminal record. The minimum jail sentence for rape is three years, period. Dewar found the defendant guilty and thus the minimum sentence he could assign was three years in jail, period. He had no authority to assign anything less.

    Dewar is not competent to rule on criminal matters and should go back to corporate litigation.

  5. Bang on. If Justice McClung didn’t get forced out after the Ewanchuk fiasco there is no chance he is disciplined for this. Terrible decision but this is why we have multiple levels of court and is likely why this man is still in QB.

  6. “unpopular with women’s groups”? how about “unacceptable with human rights groups”, or “unconscionable to any reasonable person”, or “a throwback to the dark ages”. i mean what’s next…stoning a woman for revealing her belly button?

  7. If the judge woulda known everybody was gonna have a cow over this, he probably would have just found the poor kid “NOT GUILTY”. It was a he-said/she-said situation, with no witnesses, no video, no confession, and no physical evidence. His Solomon-like verdict and sentence was an attempt to believe BOTH parties: She really didn’t consent; and he really didn’t realize that she didn’t consent. The trouble the boy has already been put through was sufficient to teach him a lesson, and a custodial sentence would have been ridiculously harsh. The judge TRIED to please everybody. But there’s just no pleasin’ some womyn. Here’s some good advice, Your Honor: Next time you wanna avoid sending a guy to prison for an unproven crime, just find him NOT GUILTY, and comment no further.

  8. Section 271 – Sexual Assault:
    Somebody touches you in a sexual way on purpose, directly or indirectly, without your consent.
    CONSENT (Your Rights about Saying Yes or No)
    The law about consent can be complicated.
    There are times when the offender sexually touches the victim without asking for permission. But, sometimes they do ask and the victim says “no” but the offender touches them anyway. If you say “no” then it means exactly that.

    Your consent can’t be forced. The courts can decide that consent was not given if the offender uses force, threats, fear of bodily harm, or by lying about what they wanted to do with you, or, if you are unable to give consent because you’re mentally challenged.
    Prior to 1983, rape was considered to be “sexual penetration of a woman’s vagina with a man’s penis without the woman’s consent, outside of marriage. Without penetration, a forced sexual act is not rape” (Schissel, 1996: 137). This legislation meant that a man could not be raped, and a husband could not rape his wife. The stereotypes associated with women at the time (many may still exist) helped to allow the laws to remain unchanged for so long. Some typical stereotypes included the following: a man has “rights” to sex from a woman in certain situations, also, rape victims were “asking for it”. Women who “led” a man on, or dressed provocatively deserved what they got (Ministry of Attorney General, 1993: 3). (Sociological Explanations for Crime and Deviance. Tricia Sutton, Spring 1999)

    Section 7 of the charter states: 7. everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
    Bill C-127 was meant to remove the gender-biased conditions in the existing legislation, and to improve conditions for the victims of sexual assault. According to Schissel (1996: 123), under the new law victims no longer had to defend their reputation in court (the rape-shield provision). Furthermore, spousal assault is now included in the laws. There is no reference to gender anymore, meaning that a man can now be, in the eyes of the law, sexually assaulted.
    There was one more significant change to the legislation. In 1991, in the case R. v. Seaboyer and Gayme, the Supreme Court struck down the rape shield law because it violated the rights of the accused. Following this decision, new? Rape shield? Legislation was introduced in 1992. It provided guidelines to determine whether evidence of a victim’s sexual activity could be admitted in court. It also defined what consent was. In addition, it restricted the situations in which the accused could claim that there was a mistaken belief of consent. It was established that the defense of mistaken belief could not be used if the belief came from the accused being drunk, careless, or if he/she did not take reasonable steps to determine whether the victim was truly consenting to the sexual activity (Statistics Canada, 1999: 2).
    (Sociological Explanations for Crime and Deviance. Tricia Sutton, Spring 1999)
    Sexual Assault Law
    from the Criminal Code
    October 2000
    271. (1) Every one who commits a sexual assault is guilty of
    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.

    Whether or not he was mistaken he should have used better judgment, especially if he was confused… no here in the statutes of sexual assault does it say “hey it’s ok if the guy was clumsy Don Juan.” A judges job is to interpret statutes not make them, especially when it’s based on outdated laws or personal feelings! The accused could have not had sex with her since he was clearly confused to avoid this mess all together. But that doesn’t stop there. She also mentioned she did so, since she felt obligated for the sake of her safety. After all she was alone with him. Just because she was wearing revealing clothing and make up and possibly might have had suggestive contact with him before doesn’t mean she has lost the right to withdraw her consent. If this were clearly the law then we would have much larger problems on our hands … if the law stated “all women who wear questionable or suggestive clothing consent to all sexual contact.” Would mean that every time you wear a tube top , every time you wear lots of makeup you would be suggesting you have consented for a man to have sex with you , whether you wanted to or not , by your conduct. Nowhere in the law does it say that. Obviously it was irresponsible of her to wander off alone with the guy, but that still doesn’t make it legally or morally right. This judge should clearly resign since he is incompetent; hopefully this case is appealed for the sake of future sexual assault victims. Justice Dewar clearly made a mistake

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