Actress tells court Ghomeshi choked and slapped her
Christina Commisso and Kendra Mangione, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, February 4, 2016 4:59AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 4, 2016 6:52PM EST
A second witness at the sexual assault trial of Jian Ghomeshi said she spent time with the former radio host after her alleged assault in an effort to "normalize the situation" and to avoid alienating herself from the entertainment industry.
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Actress Lucy DeCoutere, a Royal Canadian Air Force captain known for her role on the TV series "Trailer Park Boys," testified that she had been assaulted by Ghomeshi, but saw him more than once after the alleged incident.
"I saw him socially but never felt super comfortable," DeCoutere said Thursday.
"I knew that alienating anyone in the entertainment industry was not a good idea."
DeCoutere began her testimony on Thursday saying that she and Ghomeshi were kissing in his bedroom, in July 2003, when he began choking her with such force that she couldn't breathe.
"All I could register was not being able to breathe, and shock," DeCoutere said Thursday.
She said Ghomeshi then slapped her twice, paused, and then slapped her again.
DeCoutere said she had consented to kissing Ghomeshi, but not the violence.
"It is pretty shocking when somebody hits your face," she said. "I’ve never really had that happen before."
DeCoutere said she was shocked, and didn't know how to react. She said she remained at his home after the alleged assault and made plans with him for the weekend.
"It was how I dealt with a bad situation," she said.
"At the moment, that was the best choice I could make... People sometimes do strange things under stress."
Ghomeshi's lawyer, Marie Henein, questioned DeCoutere, asking why she didn't say she was sick to get out of spending a weekend with him.
"I could have," she said.
Henein asked whether she attended the events because she's "polite."
"It was more complicated than that," DeCoutere responded.
The actress also said she'd kissed Ghomeshi goodbye after the assault, a detail she left out of her police report and media interviews.
Henein then showed the court a pair of photos of DeCoutere and Ghomeshi, taken after the alleged assault. Some were taken at a barbecue she attended the weekend after.
DeCoutere told Henein that she'd enjoyed the event, even though Ghomeshi was there, because he has a "pretty great group of friends."
"I had mixed feelings, very mixed feelings," DeCoutere said, adding that she was trying to "normalize a rough situation."
"I'm going to suggest that your feelings weren't mixed at all," Henein responded.
DeCoutere said the fact that she saw him after the alleged incident "doesn't impact the fact that he assaulted me."
DeCoutere testified that she ran into Ghomeshi in Banff, Alta. a year after the alleged incident in his bedroom, and that the two went to karaoke together. She said Ghomeshi joined her on stage as she was singing Britney Spears' song "Hit Me Baby One More Time."
"He took my microphone and that was sort of a weird power play, it felt like," she said.
DeCoutere also testified about another encounter at an awards show, when she says Ghomeshi put his hand on her throat.
"For me it was an affirmation," she said.
Henein also questioned DeCoutere about emails she'd sent to Ghomeshi between the Banff encounter and the awards show, but DeCoutere said she was asked about the emails by police and couldn't find them.
She said she didn't know what the emails said. Henein told the court that DeCoutere had told a friend he had emails and was "looking to use them against (her) somehow."
DeCoutere told a friend she thought Ghomeshi would "try to destroy" her, Henein said. The cross-examination is expected to continue on Friday.
Earlier in the day, DeCoutere was asked why she didn't report the assault for several years. She said she didn't immediately report the alleged incident to police because she didn't initially think what had happened before was an assault.
"I always thought assault meant that you were beaten to pieces," she said. "So I didn’t think this qualified."
She said it wasn’t until Oct. 2014, when she heard that Ghomeshi had been fired from the CBC, and she read accounts from other alleged assault victims, that she decided to speak to the media.
DeCoutere said she gave a statement about the incident to police in Nov. 2014.
Ghomeshi has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance by choking.
He has always denied any wrongdoing and claimed his sexual relations were consensual.
DeCoutere, the only complainant in the high-profile trial who can be identified because she waived her right to a publication ban, is the second witness to testify this week.
Earlier this week, the trial heard from a witness who testified that Ghomeshi attacked her in December 2002, when he suddenly pulled her hair as they were kissing in a car.
She said a second incident occurred in January 2003, during which Ghomeshi abruptly pulled her hair and punched her in the head while they were kissing.
Under cross-examination by Ghomeshi's lawyer, the woman, who cannot be identified, acknowledged that she had sent two emails to the former radio host long after the alleged assaults.
The emails were brought up in court as they appeared to contradict some of the statements the witness made, including the assertion that she never watched Ghomeshi's show, and hadn't been in contact with him again.
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