Judge: Overweight teen victim may have been "flattered" by sexual assault

The Canadian judge commented on the attacker's attractiveness as well

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 27, 2017 11:13AM (EDT)

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A court judge in Quebec is under fire for commenting on a sexual assault victim's physical attractiveness, saying that she is "a bit overweight, but she has a pretty face."

Judge Jean-Paul Braun made that comment about a 17-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted by taxi driver Carlo Figaro in 2015, according to the CBC. Braun's observation about the victim's physical appearance was intended to suggest that, at least initially, she may have been "flattered”  by receiving sexual attention from an attractive older man.

He also debated Crown prosecutor Amélie Rivard on degrees of consent, arguing that levels of consent vary depending on whether the act ranges from merely kissing someone to touching their posterior. He also claimed that, because of the victim's appearance and religious background, she may have flirted with the man, although the prosecutor responded that the girl was simply being polite and that flirting does not equal consent.

Overall, Braun seemed fixated on assessing the physical attractiveness of both parties. His written decision mentioned that Figaro " looks good and doesn't seem his age," "has nice manners" and "likes to wear cologne." He also praised the appearance of the victim, writing that he disbelieved Figaro's assertion that he had never noticed her because even though her body was "quite voluptuous; the court specifies that she is a pretty young girl."

Ultimately, Braun ruled that even if the victim didn't make it clear that she didn't want to be kissed, her words and body language demonstrated that she did not want Figaro to touch her breasts and genitals and unbutton her shirt, which he subsequently did.

Braun has joined a number of other judges who have aroused controversy due to their handling of cases involving sexual crimes. Montana State District Judge G. Todd Baugh sent a teacher who raped a 14-year-old girl to only 30 days in prison, a remarkably lenient sentence, in a decision which argued that she was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as her rapist.

Judge Aaron Persky of California also became infamous for his handling of the Stanford rape case. Persky sentenced Brock Turner to six months in prison and three years of formal probation instead of six years as the prosecutors recommended, with critics accusing him of unduly sympathizing with Turner when he wrote in his decision that "I take him at his word that, subjectively, that's his version of events" and that "the jury, obviously, found it not to be the sequence of events."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Canada Judge Jean-paul Braun Law Quebec Rape Rape Culture Sexism Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment