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“Don Juan” Rapist May Walk Because He Says She Consented

“Don Juan” Rapist May Walk Because He Says She Consented

In February, we told you the story of Kenneth Rhodes, a Manitoba rapist who avoided prison time because the judge in his case said his victim was too scantily dressed and was basically “asking for it.” Instead of sending Rhodes to prison, the Judge called him a “clumsy Don Juan” and sentenced him to probation. He was also ordered to write an “apology letter” to his victim. And that was the extent of his punishment for rape.

The case sent ripples through the women’s rights communities in Canada and everywhere: blaming the victim for being raped because she was dressed provocatively makes about as much sense as blaming a car owner when his oh-so-tempting BMW is stolen.

And yet, just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it does. While the Crown was reviewing the case in an attempt to appeal the rapist’s sentence and have him committed to at least some jail time, they uncovered some disturbing news. The Crown has now revealed that the trial judge Justice Robert Dewar (who is still, by the way, on the bench despite being removed from sexual assault cases) did not properly review evidence on whether or not the rapist thought his victim might have consented to sex. According to the Crown, this legal error is serious enough to render the original conviction useless. On November 30, the case will be back in court. The options in front of the new judge? To set aside the original conviction and order a new trial — which is what the Crown is demanding — or to dismiss the charges entirely, which is what Kenneth Rhodes’ lawyers are demanding.

Having to review evidence as to whether a victim of rape actually said no is extraordinary. Do we have to review evidence that arson victims did not, in fact, ask to have their houses burned down?

This is so extraordinary, in fact, that a women’s legal group has asked for Status in the case.† The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) will ask an appeal judge for “Intervener” status today, in light of “systemic issues” that it says prejudice judges and juries against female survivors of sexual violence. They also said that victim-blaming is rampant in the Canadian justice system, and that the Judge’s Comments at time of sentencing “play on discredited legal norms that consent to sex can be implied from a woman’s dress, state of intoxication, or presence at a bar at closing time… (They send) the message to sexual assault complainants that it is their responsibility not to be sexually assaulted, as opposed to the responsibility of the offender not to commit sexual assault.”

If you feel that Kenneth Rhodes should face a new trial — and one where he will hopefully be given an appropriate sentence, once convicted — then please, sign our petition to let Manitoba know that victim blaming is NOT okay.

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Photo Credit: SteakPinBall on Flickr.

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47 comments

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4:39AM PST on Dec 5, 2011

Helen - Don't worry, I'm not talking about women like you, or women who dress for comfort. Skirts, fine. Shorts, awesome. Tube tops, knock yourself out. I am talking about women who dress *extremely* scantily, as in, skirts so short that you can almost see the buttcheeks, tops so low as to expose a very large amount of cleavage, fishnet stockings - the usual street-walker atire that I have at times seen...this is nothing more than a cry for attention, and no matter how you try to argue with me I am not going to see it any other way. If you dress that way - be prepared to accept the consequences. That's all. No it's not her fault she got raped but it certainly doesn't discourage rape when a woman is using her body to get attention like that. Deep-seated self-esteem issues, anyone?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K1KHqi9bXc&feature=player_embedded

I'll just stop arguing with feminists, lol. And I'm a woman, but sorry...my mother always taught me well about men and if you're gonna dress like a slut - you're gonna get treated like one. Plain and simple. :)

9:29PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Hey, how is this any different than the recent decision of the Turkish Supreme Court overturning the convictions of 26 men who gang raped a 13 year old girl because the court decided she consented to it?

3:40AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

Mrs. B, by suggesting you think scanty attire is an invitation to rape, it sounds to me like you've issued an invitation for being held up to ridicule. You fool, I dress as my needs dictate, not for other people. It is my body that I clothe and if the weather is too hot, I will show my skin. You can take you prudish or overly cold-blooded body and wrap in 5 sweaters, but I stand up for the right of every woman to wear tank tops, tube tops, shorts, skirts-- whatever their comfort and happiness demands. None of those things is an invitation to violence; neither is stupidity, fortunately.

8:09PM PST on Nov 10, 2011

I signed the petition for a new trial. This is unbelievably outrageous.

11:54AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Makes you wonder though, why *do* women dress scantily?? Always take caution then in how we women choose to dress ourselves, for we might receive more than we've bargained for. Food for thought...though I in no way condone rape as an acceptable behavior. You can still be sexy without showing every part of your body. Indeed, one can also be raped without showing every part of her body, but the risk increases greatly when one dresses provocatively, and that's just the way it is. Men are men, and sex is part of their mindset. You are fooling yourself if you claim otherwise. And haha-on-you to the men who claim otherwise as well.

2:00PM PST on Nov 9, 2011

This is stupid.

1:28PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Signed!

4:19PM PST on Nov 7, 2011

When your victim askes if you're going to kill her, that is NOT consentual sex. Kenneth Rhodes is a rapist, pure and simple.
Ask that Judge if it were his sister/daughter/neice who was raped if he'd feel the same way. This judge is a rapist at heart.

4:06PM PST on Nov 7, 2011

When your victim asks if you're going to kill them, that's NOT consentual sex. Kenneth Rhodes is a rapist, plain and simple.

Ask the Judge if it were his sister/daughter/neice who was raped if he'd feel the same way. This judge is a rapist at heart and should never sit on the bench again.

10:39PM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

That judge needs to retire.

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