Trial of disgraced CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi set to begin next week

TORONTO - He was a broadcasting star with a wide and loyal following before he became engulfed in a scandal that sparked a nationwide conversation on sexual assault and the issues with reporting it.

See Full Article

Now, more than a year since the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi sent shock waves across the country, his highly anticipated trial is set to begin in Toronto on Monday.

Ghomeshi - the former host of CBC radio's popular culture show “Q” - has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

The judge-alone trial, which is expected to last several weeks, involves three complainants and will be closely watched by many across the country.

“Radio is a very intimate medium and he was going into people's living rooms five days a week,” said Marsha Barber, a journalism professor at Toronto's Ryerson University.

“He was very influential and he had a huge listenership. Anybody who listened to him regularly is going to feel that they have a stake in what happened.”

The controversy around Ghomeshi surfaced on Oct. 24, 2014, when the CBC first said he was taking time off from his duties “to deal with some personal issues.” Two days later, the public broadcaster said it had cut ties with the popular host.

In a lengthy Facebook message posted on the same day, Ghomeshi said he'd been fired because of “a campaign of false allegations.” He also said that while he engaged in “rough sex” and “adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission,” he only participated in sexual practices that were “mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.”

In a separate Facebook post, he vowed to meet the allegations against him “directly.”

Five days after he was fired from the CBC, Toronto police said they were investigating Ghomeshi after two women had come forward with complaints. On the same day, the CBC issued a memo to staff saying it had seen “graphic evidence” that Ghomeshi had caused physical harm to a woman.

One of the women who contacted police was Lucy DeCoutere, an actress on the TV show “Trailer Park Boys,” who was the first to speak on the record about her alleged experiences with Ghomeshi.

DeCoutere, - the only one of the complainants at Ghomeshi's trial who can be publicly identified - accused the 48-year-old of choking her “to the point she could not breathe” and slapping her “hard three times on the side of her head.”

On Nov. 26, a month after he was fired from the CBC, Ghomeshi was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He was released on $100,000 bail and was ordered to live with his mother.

Just over a month later, three new charges of sexual assault were laid against him. All the offences allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2008.

Two of the sexual assault charges were later dropped because the Crown said there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

In addition to the charges he will stand trial for on Monday, Ghomeshi is facing a separate trial, set to begin in June, on one charge of sexual assault.

The intense level of scrutiny the case has drawn has led some to believe Ghomeshi's trial will showcase the strengths and weaknesses of the legal system when it comes to such allegations.

“This case could serve as encouragement for other women to come forward or it could end up reinforcing some problematic aspects of the process,” said Janine Benedet, a law professor at the University of British Columbia.

The fire storm of controversy created by the allegations raised questions about why victims of sexual assault stay silent.

Benedet explained that sexual assault complainants often have a lack of confidence in the criminal justice process but noted that the high-profile nature of Ghomeshi's trial would be an opportunity to see how the system works.

She noted, however, that the three women involved in Ghomeshi's upcoming trial can likely expect a tough time in the courtroom.

“It is the responsibility of the judge to make sure the women are treated with dignity and respect, but cross examination in a criminal trial can be quite detailed and intense,” Benedet said.

Ghomeshi has hired Marie Henein as his defence lawyer, a razor-sharp attorney known for securing acquittals on sexual exploitation charges for former junior hockey coach and NHL player agent David Frost, and for her defence of former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, whose charges in the death of a bicycle courier were dropped.

Ghomeshi hasn't spoken publicly since he was charged, but one lawyer said his Facebook posts will likely play a part in his legal case.

“What that message does is it in many ways confined him to a particular narrative of the case,” said Daniel Brown, a criminal defence lawyer and Toronto director with the Criminal Lawyers Association.

“That is one of perhaps many statements that can be used to undermine his defence if he is at all inconsistent with the things he wrote on that Facebook message.”

The historic nature of the offences Ghomeshi is charged with could also be an obstacles for both the prosecution and the defence in the case, Brown said, as they are deprived of much forensic evidence and individuals in the case may have trouble recalling finer details of events that happened years ago.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Canada saw nearly 20M visitors in 2016: Destination Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    In a sign that interest in Canada as a travel destination is rising, the country's tourism office reports that 2016 saw the arrival of 19.98 million international travellers, narrowly missing the all-time record set in 2002. Source
  • Malaysia wants to question North Korea diplomat in murder probe of dictator's sibling

    World News CBC News
    Malaysian police named on Wednesday a senior official in the North Korean embassy and another linked to its state airline, wanted for questioning over the murder last week of Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader's estranged half-brother. Source
  • 'Refugees Welcome' banner unfurled at Statue of Liberty

    World News CTV News
    In this photo provided by Vitoria Londero, a giant banner saying "Refugees Welcome" hangs on pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in New York. (Vitoria Londero via AP) Source
  • Former Hong Kong chief executive Tsang sentenced to 20 months in prison

    World News CBC News
    A former leader of Hong Kong was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison for misconduct over a luxury apartment in mainland China intended for his retirement. Judge Andrew Chan said that he was going to sentence Donald Tsang to 30 months in jail but took off 10 months because of his good character and contribution to Hong Kong. Source
  • Suspects wiped toxin on Kim Jong Nam, Malaysia police chief says

    World News CTV News
    Malaysia's police chief says the two female suspects in the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother at Kuala Lumpur's airport were trained to wipe toxin on his face, then wash their hands. Source
  • Pilot radioed in 'Mayday' call before Melbourne plane crash

    World News CTV News
    DALLAS - A pilot repeatedly yelled out "Mayday" but did not say what the emergency was before his light plane crashed into the roof of an Australian shopping mall, killing himself and four American tourists, an accident investigator said Wednesday. Source
  • A bounty on my head, I’m a virtual prisoner in Delhi

    World News Toronto Sun
    For the past few weeks I have been a virtual prisoner inside my Delhi Hotel, unable to walk out or attend any public event unless accompanied by “security.” Threats by Islamic clerics that I had initially shrugged off as false bravado have turned out to be serious after one cleric pronounced on my TV show that I was a “kafir,” an apostate from Islam that, under some interpretations of sharia law, allows any Muslim to kill me, as stated unambiguously by a Canadian Islamic cleric. Source
  • Pilot yelled 'Mayday' before crashing into Australian mall

    World News CBC News
    A pilot repeatedly yelled out "Mayday" but did not say what the emergency was before his light plane crashed into the roof of an Australian shopping mall, killing himself and four American tourists, an accident investigator said Wednesday. Source
  • Ontario senior puts truck up for sale, leaves rental home over hydro costs

    Canada News CTV News
    An Ottawa-area senior says unaffordable hydro bills have forced him to leave his rental home and put his truck up for sale, a scenario opposition MPPs say is becoming more common. Rick Russell, 68, erected a sign on his Brockville rental home that reads 'Another senior loses home due to high energy costs' as a warning to other seniors. Source
  • Vancouver drug users take to streets in national day of action

    Canada News CBC News
    About 200 people marched through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Tuesday demanding the federal government change its drug policy. "There's a systemic aspect to this," said organizer Jordan Westfall of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD). Source