Ghomeshi trial hears from third complainant

The third complainant at Jian Ghomeshi's sexual assault trial said she recalls feeling the former CBC Radio host's hands "all around" her neck as they kissed on a Toronto park bench.

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The woman, who cannot be publicly identified, was called to the stand at the start of the second week of Ghomeshi's trial on four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

Ghomeshi has always denied any wrongdoing and claimed his sexual relations were consensual. He is being tried by judge alone.

On Monday morning, the complainant told the court about six encounters she had with Ghomeshi in 2003, including one occasion when she said Ghomeshi put his hands on her throat.

The complainant, who is a dancer, said she had spent time with Ghomeshi twice before the pair met at a Toronto park following one of her performances.

She said the pair kissed for several minutes, sitting on a bench in the dark park. She told the court that, at some point, she felt his hands on her shoulders and then on her neck.

"His hands were around my neck and he was squeezing," she told the court.

"There was something not right about that."

She said she tried to move away, but then his hand moved to her mouth and it was difficult to breathe.

"My instinct was to get out of it physically... It didn't feel safe or sexy," she told the Crown, adding that she did not consent to the action, and left soon after.

The court was also shown a video of a police interview with the complainant. In the clip, she said she couldn't remember if Ghomeshi used one hand or two when he grabbed her throat.

Ghomeshi's lawyer, Marie Heinen, questioned the witness's accounts of the events.

Heinen said the witness told The Toronto Star that Ghomeshi kissed her "forcefully," and it was not consensual.

But the complainant said The Star was inaccurate in its story.

Heinen also brought up the fact that The Star report says Ghomeshi pushed her down on a park bench and "groped" her.

The complainant said this was also incorrect.

"I did not say groped," she said.

The complainant said she met Ghomeshi again for dinner at a later date, saying she second-guessed herself.

"You think, 'He is being really nice, maybe I misread it. Maybe if I give him another chance, maybe it will be different,'" she said.

Ghomeshi went home with her afterwards and they engaged in "romantic activity," a detail she said did not initially mention to the police.

She said she was embarrassed, and didn't think it was relevant to the investigation. She said nothing aggressive happened and she wasn't afraid during the interaction.

Days after the last date, she said she saw Ghomeshi at a party in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood.

She said he told her that her best friend was "controlling" her, and that she needed to get away.

She told the court that she left the party with Ghomeshi, but then got in an argument with him and got out of his car.

"My exact words were, 'You're f---ing crazy. Lose my number. Don't ever call me again,'" the complainant said.

She said she believed that their relationship was over, but added that Ghomeshi called her the next day to ask how she was, and she told him not to call again.

After the argument, she said she saw Ghomeshi at various public events, but didn't go out of her way to see him.

However, Heinen, said that there more than occasional run-ins.

The complainant said she invited Ghomeshi to an event where someone she was close to was performing.

When pressed by Heinen, she said that she invited Ghomeshi out of "curiosity."

Henein told the court that the witness also invited Ghomeshi to her brother's stag and doe, as well as a CD-release party.

The complainant said she didn't go to police at the time because she didn't "know the law," and just "wanted it gone." She decided to come forward when she heard others' stories and recognized a pattern.

"I realized it wasn't an isolated incident," she told the court.

The witness also told the court that she became friends with fellow complainant Lucy DeCoutere, in 2014, but that they never spoke about the allegations.

However, during an intense cross-examination, the woman said that she did in fact discuss the allegations with DeCoutere.

Heinen also noted that the pair had exchanged 5,000 messages, beginning on Oct. 29, 2014 -- the same day DeCoutere went public with her allegations.

The witness said she "explained what happened in a few words," but there were no other "details that were discussed apart from that."

In some of the messages, DeCoutere tells the woman to contact the actress's lawyer and her publisher.

Heinen also read some of the messages, which she said shows the witness's dislike of Ghomeshi.

"You also said: I want so badly for the piece of s--- to pay for what he's done," said Heinen.

Heinen said that police also contacted the complainant and told her not to communicate with other witnesses, but every time there was a court date involving Ghomeshi she contacts DeCoutere.

The complainant was called shortly before noon, after the judge held a closed-door hearing on the fifth day of the Toronto trial.

The former CBC Radio host's lawyer advised the court this morning about her concerns that the third complainant gave a new statement to police on Friday. The statement was not disclosed to Henein until Sunday.

She said there were pages of notes where the complainant "disclosed a myriad of things that she had failed to disclose previously."

Henein said the woman had also indicated that she had been following coverage of the trial, contrary to a court order, and called the new developments "disturbing."

The Crown told Henein that there was no attempt to mislead anyone with the late disclosure.

Details of what was disclosed have not been discussed in open court, but the complainant told the Crown that coverage of the trial so far made her feel that she should disclose the details of her interactions with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault.

The complainant said she'd tried not to listen to coverage of the case, but had the radio on and didn't make it to the room to turn it off in time.

Last week, the court heard testimony from the other two complainants about their interactions with Ghomeshi in 2003.

Lucy DeCoutere took the stand Thursday and Friday.

With files from The Canadian Press



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