By Paul Thompson
Judge facing calls to resign after he let rapist go free because victim sent out ‘sex was in the air’ signals
A Canadian judge is facing calls to resign after sparing a convicted rapist from prison because his victim had sent out signals that ‘sex was in the air’.
Protesters marched on the court where Justice Robert Dewar presided after his controversial comments appeared to blame the rape victim for the assault.
Banner-waving protesters said the judge had sent out the wrong message by not giving defendant Kenneth Rhodes a prison sentence after finding him guilty.
The judge had highlighted the provocative clothing worn by the 26-year-old victim which included a tube top with no bra, stiletto heels and lots of make-up.
He said the victim and a friend had ‘made it publicly known that they wanted to party’ after meeting the 40-year-old Rhodes.
Dewar said the attacker had the mistaken belief ‘sex was in the air’ and a ‘heightened expectation’ that sex would occur after the victim agreed to accompany him into nearby woods.
The court in Winnipeg, Manitoba, heard that the victim had willingly gone off with Rhodes and kissed him.
But after she rebuffed his further advances three times he raped her by the side of the road once they were alone.
Rhodes admitted telling the woman ‘it would only hurt for a little while’ during the assault almost five years ago.
He pleaded not guilty at his trial saying he thought the woman had consented to sex.
Dewar rejected his defence but said aspects of it could be considered in sentencing.
‘This is a different case than one where there is no perceived invitation,’ said Dewar. ‘This is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behaviour.’
Prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence, but Dewar gave him a conditional or suspended sentence.
He will be under 24-hour curfew and placed on the sex offenders register in Manitoba.
The judge also ordered Rhodes, who works for the city council, to write a letter of apology to his victim.
In an impact statement the court heard the victim felt she had become a prisoner in her own home because she was too scared to go out.
Angry protesters called for Dewar to be removed from his post.
It is not the first time Judge Dewar has been involved in a controversial ruling on a sex case.
Dewar acquitted a man charged with several counts of sexually assaulting a young girl.
The Crown appealed the ruling, arguing Dewar erred in his assessment of the accused man’s evidence and the evidence of the alleged victim, and that Dewar engaged in ‘inappropriate speculation.’