Jian Ghomeshi is a writer, musician, and former radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2014, the CBC fired Ghomeshi after many allegations of sexual assault and harassment were made against him by numerous women, including past girlfriends. After almost two years, this case is finally coming to a close.
Background of Jian Trial
The allegations of sexual abuse against Ghomeshi began as early as 2010 when Kathryn Borel, a Q producer, reported that he had sexually harassed her repeatedly since 2007. Borel not only reported sexual abuse at the hands of Ghomeshi to her union, but she also made allegations of emotional abuse. According to Borel, this emotional abuse entailed gaslighting and other psychological games. The executive producer of the CBC Radio One show Q and her union representative reportedly did nothing about these allegations. Borel’s allegations against Ghomeshi would later go public in 2014.
In 2013, the allegations against Ghomeshi began to mount. Carla Ciccone, a journalist, wrote an account of her date with Jian Ghomeshi. The account was titled “I Accidentally Went on a Date with a Presumed-Gay Canadian C-List Celebrity Who Creepily Proved He Isn’t Gay.” While Ciccone refers to the man in the article with the pseudonym “Keith,” Toronto Life has identified the man as Jian Ghomeshi. The account reports that the Canadian radio host made undesired physical advances. Ghomeshi claimed that the account was untrue based on what he had heard of the article. However, Ghomeshi never denied going on the date with Ciccone.
By the end of 2014, more than 20 different allegations of sexual abuse were made against Ghomeshi. Due to these allegations, CBC terminated their contract with Jian Ghomeshi on October 26, 2014. Jian turned himself in at a Toronto Police Department on November 26. On the same day, he appeared in court and was charged with four counts of sexual assault. The court allowed him to be released on $100,000 bail as long as Ghomeshi lived at home with his mother, surrendered his passport, and remained in Ontario.
By December 16 of the same year, 16 people had approached media networks to report abuse at the hands of Ghomeshi. The 16 people included 15 women and one man.
On January 8, 2015, Ghomeshi was charged with three more counts of sexual assault and he appeared in court once more. Marie Henein, his lawyer, reported that Ghomeshi would plead not guilty to all counts of sexual assault. Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking in October 2015. The Jian trial began in early February 2016.
Outcome of Jian Trial
Michael Callaghan served as the Crown counsel for the Jian trial. Many would describe Callaghan as a dependable and fair prosecutor with plenty of experience in court. He is most well-known for his role in the Zhou Fang case, which was deemed incredibly difficult to win by the presiding judge.
Marie Henein served as Ghomeshi’s defence lawyer. She has experience defending some of the highest-profile cases in Canada. Henein is well-known for playing a role in the acquittal of Gerald Regan on sexual assault charges.
Just like the prosecutor and defence lawyer, William Horkins is very familiar with high-profile cases as an Ontario judge. He is most well-known for deeming carding, or police street checks, as inherently unconstitutional. However, this debate still continues among Canada’s many police forces even today.
The trial spanned about eight days in duration and about three witnesses were heard. Lucy-Anne DeCoutere is the only complainant whose name was not protected by a publication ban. The final Crown witness of the Jian trial was actress Sarah Dunsworth. Marie Henein claimed that the witnesses were unreliable due to the behavior after the alleged incidents. On the other hand, Callaghan argued that people differ in the way they respond to sexual assault and that their behavior should not be used to evaluate their credibility.
The Jian case illuminates the importance of cross-examination in sexual assault cases. Not only is cross-examination necessary due to the human tendency to rely on our pre-existing beliefs to comprehend the world around us, but it is also necessary to determine whether an alleged victim of sexual assault is telling the truth. During the cross-examination of one of the complainants, Henein claimed that he or she told different accounts of the assaults during her testimony and her report to the police. This suggests that there may be some untrue elements in the testimony, the police report, or both.
The judge will deliver the verdict for the Jian sexual-assault trial in late March 2016.