News

The Details of The 'Keep Your Knees Together' Re-Trial Will Horrify You

For the second time in a row, the justice system put the complainant through hell.
November 22, 2016, 3:16pm

Judge Robin Camp was widely criticized for how he handled Alexander Wagar's previous sex assault trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

On Tuesday, a Lethbridge, Alberta courtroom will hear closing arguments in the sexual assault trial of 29-year-old Alexander Wagar.

The trial was held in Lethbridge instead of Calgary because of the negative attention surrounding Federal Court Justice Robin Camp, who acquitted Wagar the first time around of raping the complainant, a 24-year-old Indigenous woman identified only as JM.

During the first trial, Camp, you may recall, asked the complainant "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" as she testified to being raped in the basement bathroom of a house party in 2011.

Read more: 'Keep Your Knees Together' Judge Robin Camp Is Too Incompetent To Remain on the Bench

He also asked why she didn't sink her "bottom" into the basin of the sink "so he couldn't penetrate you" and advised her that "sometimes sex and pain go together." And in the end, he found Wagar to be credible and acquitted him. But that decision was overturned on appeal, and Camp's place on the bench has since been formally called into question.

The complainant said she was homeless and had substance abuse issues at the time she was raped. Camp's comments "made me hate myself," she testified at his judicial inquiry. And for the last couple weeks, she's gone through the entire process again. From the sounds of it, this time around wasn't much easier.

According to CBC reports, Wagar's re-trial opened with him shouting "it's never too late to tell the truth" while JM testified.

JM, 19 at the time of the alleged assault, said Wagar's brother invited her to the party and that Wagar followed her into the bathroom after she went inside to throw up. She said he told her he was going to "fuck her" then, "he rips my pants open, he pulls my pants down, puts me down on the bathroom counter."

Despite JM telling Wagar he was hurting her, and telling him to stop, "he just keeps going," she said. She testified that Wagar washed her in the shower and that Wagar's brother walked in on them, ending the assault. Later Wagar's brother called her a "slut." The next day, she said she went to a shelter and reported what had happened.

While she recalled this painful testimony, Wagar reportedly blew kisses to a woman in the gallery and "smirked."

He and his attorney Pat Flynn, proceeded to lay out their own version of events. They claim JM, who testified to being attracted to women, consented to the sex. And that she was scorned when she saw him with another woman after they had sex—a woman she was attracted to—and was angry about being called a "slut" by his brother, so she made up the rape.

It gets worse, though.

Flynn, who reportedly grilled the complainant for four and a half hours, also suggested that when Wagar pulled his dick out during the party, JM was into it because he was "larger than most men."

"Is it fair to say you were attracted to Alex when he dropped his pants?"

When Wagar took the stand in his own defence, he noted that he was "pretty fucking bitter" about having to stand trial a second time.

He claimed JM wanted to have sex with him, though he said he didn't receive explicit consent.

Prior to the alleged assault, "she grabbed my penis and complimented the size of it," Wagar said. At one point, he literally acted out the alleged rape for the court.

"Wagar now sitting on the edge of the witness box trying to demonstrate how the sex happened on the bathroom sink," the CBC reported. He also detailed for the court how he showered her.

A CP story said the judge himself, Jerry LeGrandeur, advised Wagar not to be so explicit.

"I can tell you right now it was consensual, this is all bullshit," Wagar testified. "What she wanted was just to get some revenge."

In summary, a marginalized woman says she was raped at a party; she reports it to police the next day; at her first trial, she's slut-shamed and victim blamed by a judge who questions why she didn't stop the rape from happening; at the second trial, she's called a liar by the accused, who appears to be joking around during her testimony; she's questioned for hours by the defence attorney, who accuses her of making up the rape as "revenge"; she's told she was attracted to her alleged rapist's big penis; she has to watch him act out the alleged assault for the court.

At one point, she asked defence attorney Flynn, "why would I want to go through something like this if it wasn't real?"

Anyone who still has trouble believing sex assault victims should be asking themselves the same thing.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.