The Sexist

Judge Rules Groping Victim Too Hot Not to Ogle

On Aug. 17, 2008, an Ottawa waitress in her early 20's came down with some abdominal pain, so she left her early-morning shift to check into the emergency room at a local hospital. There, the woman alleged, an emergency room orderly repeatedly entered her exam room, ogled her, asked if she had a boyfriend, grazed her butt as he changed her sheets, looked up her skirt, then groped her breast beneath her shirt and called her beautiful. When the case went to court, Judge Robert Fournier convicted the orderly of sexual assault—and cited the victim's attractiveness as evidence.

According to the Ottawa Sun:

Testifying through an Ethiopian-dialect interpreter, [the defendant] denied doing anything but his job and said he didn’t even remember the woman until confronted by hospital officials.

He refused to agree with prosecutor Paul Attia that the woman was attractive, insisting he only found his wife beautiful.

Fournier scoffed at that.

“If 50 men, self-respecting, objective men, men who respect women, were to view (the woman), however briefly, they would conclude that she meets the standard of an attractive woman, at least in the city of Ottawa,” Fournier said.

The accused refused to admit it because he knew it would bolster her account he was showing her “undue attention,” Fournier argued.

“Here is a woman, relatively attractive, scantily dressed in a miniskirt, at times she is lying on the bed, exposing a great deal of her leg,” Fournier said.

“This accused refuses to acknowledge he noticed that. In my view this is virtually impossible.”

Strangely, the Sun piece does not mention any additional facts in the case that may have led to the orderly's conviction. As far as this account is concerned, the woman's appearance alone was enough to stick the guy with a sexual assault conviction.

I agree that claiming, in a court of law, that you are only capable of recognizing your wife's beauty is a pretty stupid defense. But it's depressing that even as a judge convicts a man of sexual assault, he insists upon reinforcing the most victim-blaming sentiments about women bringing unwanted attention onto themselves based on how they look and what they're wearing. When a judge uses the word "scantily" in his description of a victim, you know you're in trouble. (She was coming straight from work, remember). And the idea that a woman exposing "a great deal of leg"—in a hospital exam room—is just too tempting for a medical professional to ignore is ridiculous.

But Fournier didn't stop there—he then launched into a little hot-or-not scenario in open court. If he were to invite 50 regular dudes to come in and ogle this sexual assault victim, most would agree that she "meets the standard of an attractive woman"—well, at least for Ottawa! (Because she's not that hot, amirite?). Way to re-victimize a sexual assault victim even while convicting her assailant, Judge Fournier.

  • Kim

    Wow. I would be absolutely mortified if I had to sit through a judge saying that stuff about me in court. It's like, "Yeah, I'm gonna punish him for groping you, but you're still a slut." WTF. How is that justice?

  • Zoë Kirk-Robinson

    It's amazing to think that in this day and age a judge can be so out of touch with the standards of public decency that he not only thinks a woman's appearance can be used evidence in a sexual assault case but also that it's somehow acceptable to discuss this at length.

    I can only hope this was a minor court and thus the case will be difficult, if not impossible, to use as a precedent in future cases. The implications of "she's hot so you're guilty!" as a precedent are too grave for words.

    Furthermore, the unfortunate consequences of this judge's split from reality is that he's now left the case open for appeal on the grounds of the defendant not getting a fair hearing. The victim may therefore have to endure another court appearance and further questioning because of this fool.

  • Sarah

    If lying on a bed with exposed leg means I'm fair game for ogling and/or butt-grazing, then my aesthetician is in for a wild ride this evening.

  • Shinobi

    Eh, I don't know that i agree with your interpretation here. It doesn't seem like the judge is saying that it is her fault that this happend to her. It seems more like he's saying it is ridiculous for the man to act like he didn't see an attractive woman in a miniskirt on a bed. He isn't excusing the actions of the accused because of her attractiveness.

    My bigger concern is, what if she WASN"T that attractive and accused the guy of groping her. Do only "objectively" hot chicks get groped by creepy orderlies? I think not.

  • Astrid

    I think it strange that supposed attractiveness should be a factor in this case at all. It is quite possible that the orderly did not find the victim especially attractive, but was sexually assaulting her anyway. Maybe it's just me, but is attraction to "objective" beauty the only possible reasont of rsexual assault? I wouldn't think so.

    The lengthy discussion about the victim's attractiveness to me sounded really like the judge was evaluating her woman-I'd-like-to-fuck factor.

  • Karen

    Whenever a man says that he finds only his wife/gf beautiful, I immediately get sketched out. It makes me think that he has use for one woman, and no others. To me, he could be telling the truth, but I would still find his statement suspicious.

  • David

    Appearance has everything to do with it.Fournier was actually giving Tesso an out.If the orderly had admitted the girl was worth a second look--and more-the judge could have easily said he fully understood and softened his stance.As it was,Tesso tried to hide behind a cloak of hypocrisy and failed.

    Mr. Fournier might,too,have been irritated by yet another non-speaker of English or French--though this matter was not addressed.The judge need not be at all apologetic for resisting the effeminising influences that women use to undermine manliness.

  • lawyer face

    you dont analyze a case by summarizing what another summary said. poorly done. this could have been part of the rationale, or part of the totality of circumstances that made him guilty. i doubt it was the sole reason for guilt.