An official complaint has been filed against Quebec-based Judge Jean-Paul Braun after he described a sexual assault victim as "overweight" and suggested that she was "flattered" by the perpetrator's attention, Le Journal de Montreal reports.
The comments were reportedly made when cab driver Carlo Figaro, 49, was on trial for the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl. Figaro was later found guilty of forcibly licking and kissing the teen's face, and touching her breasts and genitals over her clothes. He is appealing the conviction.
According to Le Journal de Montreal, Braun commented, "it can be said that she is a little overweight, but she has a pretty face huh?" and suggested that the victim may have been "flattered" by Figaro's attention because "it is perhaps the first time that he is interested in her." Braun also reportedly described the forced kiss as "an acceptable gesture."
The CBC reports that Braun debated "degrees of consent" with the prosecutor and said that Figaro's good looks could explain why the victim may have "liked" the attention. He elaborated by saying that Figaro doesn't look his age and "likes to wear cologne."
Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Valle will file a complaint against Braun with Quebec's judicial council, The Toronto Star reports.
Braun's comments are yet another example of society's fundamental misunderstanding of how sexual predators operate — and the fact that he presided over a sexual assault case makes it even more disturbing. Sex crimes are about control and power, and the physical appearances of the victims and the perpetrators are irrelevant.
Last week, many people made this point after Mayim Bialik penned an op-ed for The New York Times that suggested being a "pretty girl" makes a person more vulnerable to sexual assault. Twitter users were quick to point out that sexual violence is about power, not looks. Unfortunately, it appears that even the individuals presiding over these cases still don't understand why bringing physical appearances into the matter is so deeply problematic.
Refinery29 has reached out to Judge Jean-Paul Braun's office for comment.
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