Ghomeshi fallout: Chief Blair urges victims to come forward
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2014 12:49PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 4, 2014 1:39PM EST
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is encouraging victims of physical and sexual assault to come forward and speak to investigators, after three different women came forward with Abuse allegations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi
Speaking to reporters Tuesday about the police investigation into allegations against Ghomeshi, Blair said he hopes that other victims will feel comfortable speaking to officers. However, he rejected the notion that victims should be forced to file a report.
"I think it's very important to encourage women who have been victims of sexual assault to come forward. But I think it's equally important that they not be compelled to do it; they not be forced to do it. It's their choice," he said.
The chief said officers with the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit are working to ensure that any victims who do come forward are offered a "respectful and compassionate" response. In addition to speaking with investigators, victims will also be directed to a range of support services.
"If they come forward to police they will be treated with respect. They will be treated professionally, and they'll be treated with care," Blair said.
He noted that in recent days he was "surprised" to have received letters and comments from men suggesting that the police should force victims to come forward and file a complaint.
"Quite frankly that attitude is shocking to me in the 21st century," he said. "We have worked very closely and collaboratively with various victims' support groups and women's advocacy groups over the years, and the message they've given to us, unequivocally, is that we have to be respectful of a woman's right to make those choices."
The allegations against Ghomeshi have sparked a debate over why some victims don't file police reports.
At least nine women have come forward to accuse Ghomeshi of abuse in media reports; many of the women remain anonymous while they tell their stories. Three women have filed complaints with police.
The allegations range from beating and choking to sexual harassment. None of the allegations against Ghomeshi have been proven in court.
After the allegations came to light, some assault victims took to Twitter to offer up explanations on why they decided not to report their attack to police.
Many of the women said they didn't go to police out of a fear of being blamed and judged by authorities.
Their highly personal stories were posted to social media under the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported.
Three women come forward
Meanwhile, police are asking anyone who has any evidence related to the allegations against Ghomeshi – including video, photos and social media chats -- to contact the Sex Crimes Unit.
Over the weekend, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins said that three different women have come forward to speak with officers.
The CBC said it fired Ghomeshi on Oct. 26, after it says it saw "for the first time, graphic evidence" that Ghomeshi had allegedly "caused physical injury to a woman."
Shortly after he was terminated, Ghomeshi posted a statement on Facebook saying that he has engaged in rough sex, but the acts were always consensual and he has denied any wrongdoing.
The 47-year-old, who helped create the popular radio show "Q," has launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC, alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation.