Canadian Rape Case Is A Celebration Of Victim-Blaming

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In 2006, a Canadian man forced a woman he had met at a bar in Manitoba to have sex with him, and he was charged with rape.
During his trial, his attorneys insisted that he thought that sexual consent was implied, and a judge ruled that what the defendant did was technically rape, but it wasn't rape-rape because the fact that woman was all gussied up in heels and fancy clothes meant that "sex was in the air." Dubbing the assailant a "clumsy Don Juan," the judge doled out a sentence involving zero jail time. Now, it looks like even the slap on the wrist that the Oopsie Daisy Clumsy Rapist received may be in danger of being thrown out.


Convicted of rape (but of someone who was sort of kind of asking for it, according to the judge), Kenneth Rhodes was ultimately given what essentially amounted to 2 year probation with a year of surveillance.

In papers filed in Mid-October, the Canadian government admitted that the judge in charge of the original trial, Robert Dewar, had made serious errors in trying the case, failing to fully examine evidence that would have shown whether or not the victim consented to the sexual encounter. The government would like to put Rhodes on trial again, but his attorneys say that Judge Dewar's errors warrant the case being thrown out entirely. Say what?

As the Category 2 Clusterfuck develops into a full blown F5 Shitstorm, a woman's advocacy group is stepping in. The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is planning on asking another judge to intervene in the Rhodes case due to the fact that the entire Canadian legal system exhibits "systemic issues" and prejudices against female victims of sexual violence. Rhodes was convicted of rape, they argue, and the fact that Dewar found that the victim in fact did not consent was established by the judge.

LEAF doesn't normally involve itself in cases below the Supreme Court, but in this case, they felt compelled to due to the fact that overturning Rhodes's conviction could open the door for a flood of other convicted rapists to call for their own convictions to be overturned based on the actions of their victims. If granted their request, LEAF plans to point out that Canada has gone entirely off the rails when it comes to blaming women for crimes committed against them, that the only action of a woman that should be material to a rape trial is whether or not she consented; not what she was wearing, whether she was flirting with her rapist before the attack, or whether she had been drinking.

The next chapter in this headache inducing saga is set to unfold on November 30, when a judge will rule whether or not Rhodes's sentence should be thrown out or whether a new trial should occur.


As part of his original sentence, Judge Dewar ordered Rhodes to write his victim an apology letter, like how your dad made you write an apology letter to your grandma when you accidentally broke her window with an errant baseball. No word yet on whether the victim will be asked to return the letter.

'Clumsy Don Juan' Appeal Eyed [Winnipeg Free Press]

Image via stockpix4u/Shutterstock



While I'm on board with the rest of this post - what's the problem with an apology letter being part of the original sentence? Have we never heard of restorative justice?

In restorative justice, the offender and victim both take part. The victim's needs are addressed and the victim can participate in the criminal process, rather than viewing crime as something that happens between the offender and "the state." The offender is asked to recognize his wrong and attempts to make amends to the victim/community. This is often done with things like apology letters or mediations, community service, etc.

It's a promising social theory that is believed to reduce recidivism rates of offenders and has been shown to help victims through the healing process. Something about a victim-centered approach helps them to better return to their normal lives after having been victimized, go figure.

I don't know. I'm not the biggest proponent of restorative justice or anything. I was just put off by the sarcastic tone. Why would we dismiss out of hand the value of an apology letter. Do we not want rapists to realize the error of their ways? A victim may certainly choose not to accept an apology, but do we not want rapists to feel remorse?