Verdict in Ghomeshi's sex assault trial set for March 24

TORONTO -- The fate of Jian Ghomeshi now rests with a Toronto judge who is expected to decide next month whether to convict the former broadcaster of sexual assault and send him to jail or declare him innocent.

See Full Article

The Crown said on Thursday that the three women at the heart of the trial were "unshaken" in their allegations against the one-time CBC star, while the defence steadfastly argued that the complainants were unreliable witnesses who lied under oath.

The credibility and the reliability of Ghomeshi's three accusers are key issues for Justice William Horkins as he mulls the case that has triggered a national discussion about the challenges of reporting and prosecuting sexual assault.

Ghomeshi -- the former host of CBC Radio's popular culture show "Q" -- pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. His long anticipated trial, which began on Feb. 1, became something of a spectacle, drawing large crowds to a downtown Toronto courthouse.

While the 48-year-old did not take the stand, the bulk of evidence at the trial came from the three women, whose allegations were linked to incidents that allegedly happened in 2002 and 2003.

"All three Crown witnesses were unshaken in their allegations that they were sexually assaulted by Mr. Ghomeshi," Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan said in his closing arguments on Thursday.

Ghomeshi's defence team offered a starkly different view, arguing the Crown had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"It (the evidence) is so riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities and proven lies under oath that it cannot be said to prove anything," said Marie Henein, Ghomeshi's razor-sharp defence lawyer who shredded the testimony of all three complainants during intense cross-examination.

"It is our respectful submission that Mr. Ghomeshi is not guilty and he is entitled to an acquittal on all counts."

The first complainant, who cannot be identified, testified that Ghomeshi abruptly yanked on her hair when they were kissing in his car in December 2002 and then, a few days later, suddenly pulled her hair while they were kissing in his home and then punched her in the head.

The second complainant, "Trailer Park Boys" actress Lucy DeCoutere, told court she and Ghomeshi were kissing in his bedroom in 2003 when he suddenly pushed her against a wall, choked her and then slapped her face three times.

The third woman, who also cannot be named, testified that while kissing Ghomeshi in a park in 2003, he suddenly bit her shoulder and started squeezing her neck with his hands.

During cross-examination, however, Henein accused all three women of concealing the whole truth.

"The extraordinary fact of this case is that all three complainants withheld information from the police and from the Crown and, in my submission, most importantly from the court," she said.

In the case of the first complainant, Henein confronted the woman with friendly emails and a bikini photo she sent to Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults. The woman said she sent them as "bait," hoping Ghomeshi would contact her so she could get an explanation for the alleged assaults. The woman said she didn't remember the emails when she spoke with police.

During DeCoutere's time on the stand, Henein suggested her alleged assault never happened, showing court an email the actress sent Ghomeshi hours after the alleged incident in which she expressed a desire to have sex with him. Henein also produced a hand-written letter the actress sent him days later that ended with the words: "I love your hands." DeCoutere explained that she had been trying to "normalize" the situation and emphasized that her correspondence with Ghomeshi didn't mean the alleged assault didn't happen.

Under a barrage of questions from Henein, the third complainant acknowledged she deliberately misled investigators by not initially telling them she had a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi a few days after the alleged assault. Henein also revealed that the woman and DeCoutere exchanged thousands of messages in which they discussed their allegations and their shared contempt for him. The woman explained she was embarrassed by the sexual encounter and didn't initially think it was relevant. She also explained that her friendship with DeCoutere was that of two women who went through similar experiences supporting each other.

Callaghan argued that the credibility of Ghomeshi's three accusers had nothing to do with the way the women behaved after the alleged incidents, since the law is clear that everyone responds differently to sexual assault.

"Post-assault behaviour should not be used in the assessment of a complainant's credibility," he said. "Each of the complainants reacted to the sexual assault in their own unique ways. "

Henein agreed that the women's behaviour and their continued involvement with Ghomeshi after the alleged sexual assaults was not what was at play in the case -- but the fact that they lied under oath was.

"There is not an expert who will testify that perjury is indicative of trauma," she said. "What a witness cannot do is lie and conceal their conduct and then when caught out say 'oh geez that's just how victims of abuse behave."'

Ghomeshi's case will return to court on March 24. If convicted on the sexual assault charges, he faces a maximum of 18 months in prison. A conviction on the choking charge could bring a potential life sentence.

Reading in an app? Click here for a better user experience

Replay our live blog of the trial below. Warning: Some readers may find content disturbing



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Australian hiker rescued after crawling with broken leg for two days

    World News CTV News
    (CNN) -- An experienced Australian hiker crawled for two agonizing days, carrying his broken leg, to find help after falling down a waterfall during a solo mountain hike. Neil Parker, 54, was hiking on Mount Nebo, northwest of Brisbane, on Sunday when he tumbled six meters from the top of a waterfall, fracturing his leg and wrist. Source
  • Woman, 74, and boy, 15, among three people who allegedly killed a man

    World News CTV News
    TRENTON, N.J. -- A 74-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy are among three people who allegedly took turns shooting a man to death inside a New Jersey laundromat. Mercer County prosecutors say 74-year-old Eudean McMillan, 37-year-old Darryl Parker and the 15-year-old have been charged in the slaying of 21-year-old Geovahnie FanFan in Trenton on Monday. Source
  • Israel's election too close to call, Netanyahu falls short of parliamentary majority

    World News CBC News
    Benjamin Netanyahu was in a battle to remain as Israel's prime minister after exit polls following Tuesday's election showed the race too close to call and his decade-long grip on power slipping. Netanyahu's main election challenger, centrist Benny Gantz, said Wednesday it appeared from the exit polls that Israel's longest-serving leader was defeated but that only official results would tell. Source
  • Israel's 2 main political parties deadlocked after election

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel's two main political parties were deadlocked Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to hold on to his job. The election's seeming political kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, said he'll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White parties, who based on partial results are currently tied at 32 seats each out of the 120 in parliament. Source
  • Netanyahu faces uphill battle after repeat election

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel's two main political parties were deadlocked Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to hold on to his job. The election's seeming political kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, said he'll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White parties, who are running neck-and-neck to become the country's largest party. Source
  • Iran warns U.S. of response to any action over Saudi attack

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran warned the U.S. that any action taken against it following an attack on Saudi oil installations will "immediately" be met with a response from Tehran, its state-run news agency reported Wednesday, further raising Mideast tensions. Source
  • EU chief: The risk of a no-deal Brexit 'remains very real'

    World News CTV News
    STRASBOURG, France -- The risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal remains "very real," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker declared Wednesday as EU lawmakers debated the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit. Source
  • EU chief says the risk of a no-deal Brexit 'remains very real'

    World News CBC News
    European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal remains "very real." Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Juncker, who met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, said a no-deal Brexit "might be the choice of the U.K. Source
  • Saudi Arabia promises 'material evidence' linking Iran to oil attack

    World News CBC News
    Saudi Arabia said it would show evidence on Wednesday linking regional rival Tehran to an unprecedented attack on its oil industry that Washington believes originated from Iran in a dangerous escalation of Middle East frictions. Tehran has denied involvement in the Sept. Source
  • Canadian Labour Congress exec calls to end sanctions in Syria

    World News CBC News
    The second in command of the largest labour organization in Canada attended a trade union conference in Syria last week and called for the end of sanctions against the country, which is run by an internationally condemned authoritarian regime. Source