Warning: story contains graphic language
Just as Justice Robin Camp’s fate as a federal court judge hangs by a thread, so does the future of the man he acquitted of sexual assault in 2014. Due to “errors of law” found by the Alberta Court of Appeal in his first trial, Alexander Wagar was back in a Calgary courtroom on Monday, Nov. 7 for the first day of his three-day trial with Southern Alberta Judge Jerry LeGrandeur presiding.
The original trial was brought to the public’s attention after a complaint was filed to the Canadian Judicial Council over presiding Judge Robin Camp’s comments, who asked the complainant “why she couldn’t just keep her knees together.”
Monday morning’s proceedings were pitted with a number of subtle dramatics, including glares and a middle finger that a man seated in the audience directed to Wagar. He left not long after making his silent statement to the defendant.
A young woman, with half a head of dreadlocks, entered and left the courtroom during the proceedings blowing kisses to Wagar, who smiled back at her from the prisoner’s box.
And if that wasn’t enough, Wagar was reprimanded by his attorney for repeatedly speaking out during the trial. Once, to make an incomprehensible comment about the complainant’s protection under the publication ban. Another time, to loudly tell her that “it’s never too late to tell the truth.”
Wagar is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a small get-together in 2011. The original trial was brought to the public’s attention after a complaint was filed to the Canadian Judicial Council over presiding Judge Robin Camp’s comments, who asked the complainant “why she couldn’t just keep her knees together,” among other controversial remarks.
Justice Camp has attended sensitivity training but is not taking on any cases while he awaits a decision from the Canadian Judicial Council after testifying before the council in September. Along with two Crown witnesses, the complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, took the stand that same morning, on Nov. 7.
Both Wagar and the complainant were homeless in the winter of 2011, the time when the alleged sexual assault occurred. According to her testimony, the accuser met Wagar at the Alex Youth Centre with a small group of mutual friends and acquaintances before the group stole alcohol for a party that night.
“I tell him he’s hurting me, I tell him to stop and he keeps going.” –Complainant
While she says she is now clean and off the streets, the complainant testified that she was frequently abusing drugs and alcohol at the time of the assault.
“I drank to get drunk, wasted,” she testified, later claiming that the defendant took advantage of her: “He’s a fucking big dude and I was so small and intoxicated,” she added.
The complainant testified that when she was leaving the bathroom at the party, she opened the door to find Wagar standing on the other side. She said he pushed her back into the room and started complimenting her body, then went to place her on the bathroom counter, where he sexually assaulted her.
“Did you give him any indication that that’s what you wanted?” Crown prosecutor Janice Walsh asked.
“No,” she answered, adding: “I tell him he’s hurting me, I tell him to stop and he keeps going.”
The complainant testified she stayed in the house that night because it was dark and cold out, and she believed the buses were not running. She alleged she experienced further abuse the morning after the assault when Lance, Wagar’s brother, called her “a little slut and a little whore,” telling her that he asked his brother to assault her.
After testifying that a friend seemed to neither “believe” nor “care” when she disclosed the assault to him, the complainant said she “felt even more alone.”
The complainant told the court that she reported the alleged sexual assault to Lindsay Winter, a worker at the Mustard Seed. Winter testified earlier that morning that the complainant had indeed sought assistance from the downtown Mustard Seed location in the days following the alleged assault. Workers from the Christian organization encouraged the accuser to report the alleged assault to police.
On Nov. 8, defense attorney Pat Flynn will wrap up his cross-examination of the complainant, using previous testimony to draw attention to alleged inconsistencies in her statements. Wagar is also expected to take the stand during the three-day trial, set to end Nov. 9.
The editor responsible for this piece is Ingrid Mir and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org