The CBC will hire a third-party company to conduct a “rigorous, independent” investigation into allegations of abuse at the hands of former radio star Jian Ghomeshi.

In a memo issued to staff Thursday, CBC’s executive vice-president of English services, Heather Conway, called the reports about Ghomeshi “extremely disturbing” and said the CBC is in the process of hiring the independent investigator.

The memo also said counselling will be made available to CBC staff.

Nine women have come forward to say that they have been abused by Ghomeshi. The allegations range from beating and choking to sexual harassment.

Two of the women have decided to reveal their identities: actress Lucy DeCoutere, who played Lucy on the television series “Trailer Park Boys,” and author Reva Seth, who published a first-hand account of her experience with Ghomeshi in a Huffington Post blog Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Ghomeshi posted a two-line statement to Facebook saying he intends to “meet these allegations directly.

“I want to thank you for your support and assure you that I intend to meet these allegations directly,” Ghomeshi wrote.

“I don’t intend to discuss this matter any further with the media.”

A crisis PR firm Ghomeshi had hired said Thursday it is no longer advising him.

“Regrettably, the circumstances of our engagement have changed and we are no longer able to continue,” Navigator said in a brief statement.

Another PR firm, rock-it promotions, also said Thursday it will no longer represent Ghomeshi.

‘It was shocking to me’

In a video interview with CTV News Thursday, Lucy DeCoutere described a 2003 date with Ghomeshi during which he allegedly grabbed her by the throat, slammed her against the wall and slapped her.

“There was no conversation. There was no request. There was nothing and that’s why it was so weird,” she said.

DeCoutere also spoke to the Toronto Star and appeared on CBC’s “The Current” on Thursday, saying that she was willing to go public with her story if it helped other women who felt they were hurt more severely.

The other women whose stories are outlined in the Star offer details of alleged abuse that allegedly occurred between 2002 and the present.

All of the women say they did not consent to the violence.

Toronto Police have not opened an investigation into the allegations against Ghomeshi, as none of the women has approached the force with a complaint.

The Star said it had contacted Ghomeshi, his lawyers and his public relations staff about all of the allegations, but had not received a reply.

On Sunday, the CBC parted ways with Ghomeshi, who hosted its popular arts program ‘Q.’ The public broadcaster issued a statement to say that it could not continue its relationship with Ghomeshi after it learned of new “information” about him.

Just days before, the CBC had said Ghomeshi would be taking a leave of absence to deal with personal issues.

Ghomeshi’s lawsuit

On Monday, Ghomeshi filed a $55 million lawsuit against the CBC, alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation.

In a Sunday Facebook post, Ghomeshi wrote extensively about his sexual appetites, saying that he enjoys rough sex and role play, but that such activity has always been consensual.

In that post, Ghomeshi alleged that the public broadcaster was firing him because it feared that details of his consensual sexual behaviour would go public.

Ghomeshi explained that he had approached the CBC to disclose his sexual appetites and relationship history after he became aware of a “campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer” that the radio host engaged in non-consensual abuse.

His lawsuit claims the CBC had told Ghomeshi that it believed the allegations of abuse to be false. The suit further alleges that Ghomeshi was subsequently terminated because of “possible negative public perception” over his sexual behaviour.

"Mr. Ghomeshi would not have shared information about his private life with the CBC, had he appreciated that the CBC would ultimately use the information provided to it to terminate his employment," the suit says.

The CBC says it plans to contest the matter. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

On Monday, the Star reported about allegations from three women who alleged that Ghomeshi became physically violent without their consent either during sex or before sex.

Ghomeshi’s lawyer responded to those allegations by saying that Ghomeshi “does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory.”

The Star also reported that a fourth woman, who had worked at the CBC, alleged that Ghomeshi “cupped her rear end” in the ‘Q’ studio and made an obscene comment to her after a show meeting.

With files from The Canadian Press