Ghomeshi judgment: What you need to know
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2016 2:48PM EDT
Ontario Court Justice William Horkins is set to hand down his judgment Thursday, in the sexual assault trial of former broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi.
The judgment follows Ghomeshi’s high-profile trial on charges of sexual assault and overcoming resistance by choking. Ghomeshi, a one-time radio host for the radio program “Q,” pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Here’s what you need to know about the case, and what to expect after the judgment is delivered:
In October 2014, after the CBC announces it has cut ties with Ghomeshi, the radio host posts on Facebook that he has engaged in rough, but consensual sex, and that he was fired due to a risk that his intimate life would become public “as a result of a campaign of false allegations.”
Oct. 27: The Toronto Star publishes a report with allegations from three unidentified women who say Ghomeshi was violent during dates or sexual encounters. Ghomeshi says, through his lawyers, that he does “not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion to the contrary is defamatory.”
Oct. 29: The Star publishes another article, saying eight women allege abusive behaviour by Ghomeshi. CBC radio program "As it Happens" also airs an interview with an unidentified woman who alleges Ghomeshi punched her in the head without warning.
Oct. 30: In a Facebook post, Ghomeshi says that he intends to “meet these allegations directly.” None of Ghomeshi’s accusers had reported going to police with their allegations.
Oct. 31: The CBC issues a memo to staff saying the decision to fire Ghomeshi was made after executives saw “graphic evidence” that he had caused physical injury to a woman. On the same day, Toronto police say they are investigating Ghomeshi after two women come forward with complaints.
Nov. 1: Toronto police say three women have now filed abuse complaints against Ghomeshi. Police also say investigators are looking into reports of a "graphic" video in the network's possession.
Nov. 26: Ghomeshi is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance – choking.”
Jan. 8, 2015: Police lay three new charges of sexual assault against Ghomeshi.
May 12, 2015: The Crown prosecutor says two sexual assault charges are dropped against Ghomeshi because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.
Oct. 1, 2015: Ghomeshi pleads not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
Feb. 1, 2016: Ghomeshi's judge-alone trial begins in Toronto.
Feb. 11, 2016: The trial wraps up, and March 24 is set as the date for Justice Horkins to deliver a verdict.
Jian Ghomeshi: The 48-year-old from Thornhill, Ont. saw some early success as a vocalist and drummer for the Canadian band Moxy Fruvous. He soon parlayed his fame into various radio and TV hosting gigs at the CBC. As host of the popular arts and culture show “Q,” Ghomeshi developed a large following of fans who praised his thoughtful questions during guest interviews.
His accusers: Three female complainants testified at Ghomeshi’s trial. The first and third complainants’ identities were protected by a publication ban. The second complainant to take the stand, actress Lucy DeCoutere, waived her right to anonymity.
The first complainant alleged that Ghomeshi pulled her hair during two different encounters with Ghomeshi in December 2002. She also said Ghomeshi punched her in the head during an encounter, at his home.
"He pulls my head down and at the same time he's punching me in the head multiple times and I'm terrified," she testified." I don't know if he's going to stop, can I take this pain." The woman said she ended up on her knees, with her ears ringing, and began to cry when Ghomeshi told her she should leave his house.
DeCoutere, who is a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force, testified that she was in Ghomeshi’s bedroom in 2003, when he began to choke her and slap her face while they were kissing. She said Ghomeshi then grabbed her by the throat, pushed her up against a wall and hit her face repeatedly with an open hand. "I remember not being able to breathe," she said. "I was just completely bewildered by what happened therefore I tried to brush it off. I didn't leave."
The third complainant testified that she and Ghomeshi were kissing in a park in 2003, when Ghomeshi bit her shoulder and started squeezing her neck with his hands. "All of a sudden, I felt his hand on my shoulders and his teeth. And then his hands were around my neck and he was squeezing," the woman said on the witness stand. "I tried to get out of it and then his hand was on my mouth, sort of smothering me." The woman said she had consented to the kissing only.
The lawyers: Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, has a reputation as a whip-smart lawyer who does her research. She has successfully represented high-profile clients, including former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant and former junior hockey coach David Frost. During Ghomeshi’s trial, Henein attempted to discredit the complainants by presenting evidence of contact between the women and her client after the alleged abuse.
Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan successfully prosecuted Zhou Fang, a young man who fatally shot his father with a crossbow at a Toronto public library in 2010. A career Crown lawyer, Callaghan has a reputation for his trial skills, and for good judgment, Anthony Moustacalis, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, told The Canadian Press prior to the trial.
In closing arguments at the Ghomeshi trial, Callaghan said: "All three Crown witnesses were unshaken in their allegations that they were sexually assaulted by Mr. Ghomeshi.”
What happens next?
Ghomeshi could be convicted of one, some or all counts of sexual assault, in which case he faces a maximum of 18 months in prison per count. He could be convicted of the choking charge and face a potential life sentence. If found guilty, Ghomeshi could appeal any conviction. He could also be acquitted of all charges.
Ghomeshi will also face one count of sexual assault at a separate trial scheduled for June.
With files from The Canadian Press