Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Protesters highlight rape issue

Demand politicians address Manitoba judge's sentencing comments

  • Print

Critics of a judge's handling of a rape case in Thompson six weeks ago say his controversial comments during sentencing and the ensuing fallout should be a federal election issue.

"Ending rape is an election issue," said one of the signs carried by protesters outside the downtown Law Courts building Friday.

It was the second time protesters paraded there over Justice Robert Dewar's comments suggesting a rape victim's attire and flirtatious behaviour were partly to blame for the attack, which involved forced intercourse.

The judge called the attacker, Kenneth Rhodes, a "clumsy Don Juan" and noted the victim wore a tube top, high heels and plenty of makeup. He gave the man a conditional sentence of two years -- meaning no jail time -- rejecting a Crown suggestion of at least three years behind bars.

That prompted a rally last month outside the Winnipeg courthouse.

On Friday, another rally was held to express outrage at Dewar's remarks and to call out federal candidates on where they stand on women's rights, organizers said.

"The rally is about Dewar still not being held responsible for his comments," said Liz Carlyle with the Canadian Federation of Students. She said members of the student-funded organization are pressing the issue because women's groups have lost their government funding to organize and advocate for women's rights.

The National Action Committee on the Status of Women used to be a powerful voice until it was gutted after years of successive governments hacking away at its funding, Carlyle said.

Without the feminist watchdog organization speaking out for women, men and members of the justice system seem to get away with blaming the victims of sexual assaults, she said.

"Why do so many men have complete ignorance that consent is required?"

The outrage isn't just in Winnipeg. In Toronto on Sunday, protesters are holding a "SlutWalk" after a police officer at a safety forum said women shouldn't dress like "sluts" if they don't want to be victimized.

In Winnipeg Friday, students who belong to a Facebook group held the rally outside the Law Courts because it's election time and the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

They want election candidates to speak out against the judge's comments and support funding for programs that help sexual assault victims and monitor the courts, said Carlyle.

Meanwhile, the man whose conditional sentence for the rape conviction filed an appeal asking the province's highest court to overturn his sexual assault verdict.

He claims the guilty finding by Dewar "was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence."

"The judge erred in law in misapplying the test for honest but mistaken belief in consent," the appeal said.

The Canadian Judicial Council is investigating Dewar's handling of the case. In the meantime, Dewar has agreed not to preside over cases of a sexual nature.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 2, 2011 A13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets defencemen ready to face adversity

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google