Canadian judge writes the book on victim-blaming

“No jail for rapist because victim ‘wanted to party’”

With an headline like that, you just know it will be good!

“A convicted rapist will not go to jail because a Manitoba judge says the victim sent signals that “sex was in the air” through her suggestive attire and promiscuous conduct on the night of the attack.

Kenneth Rhodes was given a two-year conditional sentence last week that allows him to remain free in the community in a decision likely to trigger strong debate.

The Crown wanted at least three years behind bars.

Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar called Rhodes a “clumsy Don Juan” who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted when he forced intercourse along a darkened highway outside Thompson, Man., in 2006.”

Strong debate? Oh I don’t think there’s much debate here. As Vanessa said, this guy pretty much wrote the book on victim-blaming.

When Judge Dewar said the woman and accused met at a bar under “inviting circumstances,” I rolled my eyes.

When he pointed out that the women talked about going swimming in a nearby lake that night “notwithstanding the fact neither of them had a bathing suit,” I laughed out loud.

When he noted that the woman and her friend were wearing “tube tops with no bra, high heels and plenty of makeup,” I threw up a little in my mouth.

When he said, “This is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behaviour,” I started to seethe.

And then for a moment I thought that, against all odds, Judge Dewar might have been beat in the rape apologist bingo game by defense lawyer Derek Coggan, who said that his client was simply “insensitive to the fact (she) was not a willing participant.”

Oh really? Because in my book (and also in, um, the legal code) being insensitive to the fact that someone is not a willing participant in some sexual act and doing it anyway is kinda the definition of rape.

Dewar said that “he didn’t want to be seen as blaming the victim but that all of the factors in the case had to be viewed to assess ‘moral blame worthiness.’” Dude, if you don’t think this is blaming the victim, what the fuck do you think is?

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Kathryn

    Was this judge calling it opposite day when he sat this trial? Some of the points seem valid until you reach the question of consent. Even if the guy was hazy on whether the woman was interested or not, alcohol was a major factor and she was likely unable to give consent. She’s stated that she was traumatized by the even, is frightened to leave her home and has a scar on her knee to forever remind her that if you get drunk and kiss someone, everyone agrees you deserved to be raped.
    Maybe he didn’t deserve a huge amount of jail time, he made a very poor judgment call and is on the sex offender registry now but calling him a “clumsy Don Jaun” and flat out say the victim was asking for it is a blatant disregard of her rights and in your face victim blaming.

  • Shannon Drury

    Oh. My. God.
    Words fail….

  • Taylor Shively

    To quote Hole, “If she was asking for it, did she ask you twice?”

    I think not.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    This judge is a monstrous troglodyte asshole. Wonder if he’s a golfing buddy of the rapist or something?

  • Laura

    This should be illegal, why isn’t this illegal already? every single memeber of the police force and ‘justice system’ who deals directly or indirectly with rape cases need to be taught and warned of these ridiculous victim blaming myths and if they act in anyway that shows their acceptance of them, they should be gotten rid of.

    I recently had an experience where two male police officers came round to my house and questioned me about my past sexual history in relation to a rape case I had reported to the police force. They asked me whether I was adventurous in bed and whether I was just jealous because I could be seen to be acting like “a woman scorned” – they actually used that ridiculous stereotyped phrase with me. Needless to say despite a signed confession from him that he raped me and him admitting that he wrote it, there was found “insufficient evidence” to take the bastard to court. So now he’s out there, like the majority of them, free to rape again.

    It’s a joke, rape myths affect the general public and police officers and judges ARE part of this general public. This sort of judgemental treatment by professionals simply should not be allowed, it should be illegal. It makes me so angry.

  • Mary Vasquez

    Please do not let this judge get away with this because you know he will do it again. You must initiate procedures for his removal from the bench and not stop until he’s gone. Don’t just get mad. Get working at removing him from the bench.

  • Caitlin

    Here’s hoping they disbar this judge. God! Anytime it gets to the question of what the woman was wearing you know its all going downhill from there!