Timeline: Key dates in the Jian Ghomeshi affair
Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto courthouse on Thursday, March 24, 2016 for the verdict in his trial. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
TORONTO -- Former broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty Thursday on all charges of sexual assault and choking. Here are some key dates in his case, which first made headlines in late 2014:
Oct. 24: CBC says Ghomeshi is taking an undetermined amount of time away from the network "to deal with some personal issues." And Ghomeshi tweets:
"Thanks for all the well wishes, you guys. I'm OK. Just taking some much needed personal time."
Oct. 26: CBC announces it has cut ties with the "Q" radio host after receiving "information" about him.
"The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end. This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well."
- CBC statement
Oct. 26: Ghomeshi issues a lengthy Facebook post saying he has engaged in rough sex, but says it was always consensual. He says he was fired from CBC because of the risk that his sex life would become public "as a result of a campaign of false allegations."
I am writing today because I want you to be the first to know some news.
This has been the hardest time of my life. I am reeling from the loss of my father. I am in deep personal pain and worried about my mom. And now my world has been rocked by so much more.
Today, I was fired from the CBC.
For almost 8 years I have been the host of a show I co-created on CBC called Q. It has been my pride and joy. My fantastic team on Q are super-talented and have helped build something beautiful.
I have always operated on the principle of doing my best to maintain a dignity and a commitment to openness and truth, both on and off the air. I have conducted major interviews, supported Canadian talent, and spoken out loudly in my audio essays about ideas, issues, and my love for this country. All of that is available for anyone to hear or watch. I have known, of course, that not everyone always agrees with my opinions or my style, but I’ve never been anything but honest. I have doggedly defended the CBC and embraced public broadcasting. This is a brand I’ve been honoured to help grow.
All this has now changed.
Today I was fired from the company where I’ve been working for almost 14 years – stripped from my show, barred from the building and separated from my colleagues. I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision. But I am not going to do that. Because that would be untrue. Because I’ve been fired. And because I’ve done nothing wrong.
I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.
As friends and family of mine, you are owed the truth.
I have commenced legal proceedings against the CBC, what’s important to me is that you know what happened and why.
Forgive me if what follows may be shocking to some.
I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.
About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.
Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.
After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.
It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.
Someone also began colluding with a freelance writer who was known not to be a fan of mine and, together, they set out to try to find corroborators to build a case to defame me. She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign. The writer boldly started contacting my friends, acquaintances and even work colleagues – all of whom came to me to tell me this was happening and all of whom recognized it as a trumped up way to attack me and undermine my reputation. Everyone contacted would ask the same question, if I had engaged in non-consensual behavior why was the place to address this the media?
The writer tried to peddle the story and, at one point, a major Canadian media publication did due diligence but never printed a story. One assumes they recognized these attempts to recast my sexual behaviour were fabrications. Still, the spectre of mud being flung onto the Internet where online outrage can demonize someone before facts can refute false allegations has been what I’ve had to live with.
And this leads us to today and this moment. I’ve lived with the threat that this stuff would be thrown out there to defame me. And I would sue. But it would do the reputational damage to me it was intended to do (the ex has even tried to contact me to say that she now wishes to refute any of these categorically untrue allegations). But with me bringing it to light, in the coming days you will prospectively hear about how I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom. And the implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie. But it will be salacious gossip in a world driven by a hunger for “scandal”. And there will be those who choose to believe it and to hate me or to laugh at me. And there will be an attempt to pile on. And there will be the claim that there are a few women involved (those who colluded with my ex) in an attempt to show a “pattern of behaviour”. And it will be based in lies but damage will be done. But I am telling you this story in the hopes that the truth will, finally, conquer all.
I have been open with the CBC about this since these categorically untrue allegations ramped up. I have never believed it was anyone’s business what I do in my private affairs but I wanted my bosses to be aware that this attempt to smear me was out there. CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months. On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.
CBC execs confirmed that the information provided showed that there was consent. In fact, they later said to me and my team that there is no question in their minds that there has always been consent. They said they’re not concerned about the legal side. But then they said that this type of sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host on the CBC. They said that I was being dismissed for “the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.” To recap, I am being fired in my prime from the show I love and built and threw myself into for years because of what I do in my private life.
Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.
And so, with no formal allegations, no formal complaints, no complaints, not one, to the HR department at the CBC (they told us they’d done a thorough check and were satisfied), and no charges, I have lost my job based on a campaign of vengeance. Two weeks after the death of my beautiful father I have been fired from the CBC because of what I do in my private life.
I have loved the CBC. The Q team are the best group of people in the land. My colleagues and producers and on-air talent at the CBC are unparalleled in being some of the best in the business. I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country. I am still in shock. But I am telling this story to you so the truth is heard. And to bring an end to the nightmare."
- Jian Ghomeshi Facebook post
Oct. 27: The Toronto Star publishes a report detailing allegations from three women who say Ghomeshi was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the run-up to such encounters. Ghomeshi -- through his lawyer -- responded that he "does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory." The Star reported none of the women filed police complaints. The newspaper also reported that a fourth woman who worked at the CBC alleged that Ghomeshi "approached her from behind and cupped her rear end in the Q studio" and made a sexually obscene comment to her during a story meeting. The Star reported Ghomeshi told the newspaper that he did not understand why it was continuing to pursue allegations when "my lawyers have already told you it is untrue."
Oct. 27: Ghomeshi's lawyers file a lawsuit suing the CBC for $55 million plus special damages and alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation. The CBC did not immediately file a formal statement of defence, but a spokesman said the public broadcaster plans to "contest this matter vigorously."
Oct. 28: The CBC issues an internal memo saying it is conducting a "continuing investigation" into a claim of misconduct against one of its employees. The memo never named Ghomeshi directly, but said it became aware of the claim through a story published in the Toronto Star.
Oct. 29, 2014: CBC current affairs radio show "As it Happens" airs an interview with an unnamed woman who alleges Ghomeshi punched her repeatedly in the head without warning. The woman said she did not go to police and felt emboldened to come forward after reading the allegations in the Toronto Star.
Oct. 29: The Toronto Star publishes another article, saying eight women now allege abusive behaviour by Ghomeshi. "Trailer Park Boys" actress Lucy DeCoutere agrees to be identified in connection with her allegations against Ghomeshi. DeCoutere accused Ghomeshi of choking her "to the point she could not breathe" and slapping her "hard three times on the side of her head." The Star said Ghomeshi, his lawyers and public relations staff had not responded to allegations in their latest report.
Oct. 30: Ghomeshi issues a Facebook post saying that he intends to "meet these allegations directly," but adding he will not communicate with the media.
Oct. 30: The CBC says it is hiring a third-party company to conduct an investigation in the wake of allegations against Ghomeshi. It also says CBC is making counsellors available to employees.
Oct. 30: Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says there is no investigation underway against Ghomeshi, adding someone must lodge a formal complaint in order for a probe to be launched. None of Ghomeshi's accusers had reported going to police with their allegations.
Oct, 30: Another woman, identifying herself as Reva Seth, writes an article for the Huffington Post involving her own allegations of an aggressive, non-consensual encounter with Ghomeshi.
Oct. 31: The CBC issues a memo to staff saying it saw "graphic evidence" that Ghomeshi had caused physical injury to a woman. This evidence, it said, was seen on Oct. 23 and was the reason behind the decision to fire the "Q" host.
Oct. 31: The Toronto Star publishes a story saying Ghomeshi showed CBC executives videos of some of his sexual encounters. Toronto police say they are investigating Ghomeshi after two women have come forward with complaints.
Oct. 31: Various organizations and individuals all announce they are parting company with Ghomeshi. Penguin Canada says it will no longer publish his next book, talent management company "The Agency Group" stated it would no longer represent him, and pop singer Lights issued a Facebook statement saying she was dropping Ghomeshi as her manager after 12 years of working together.
Oct. 31: Toronto police say they are investigating Ghomeshi after two women have come forward with complaints.
Nov. 1: Toronto police say three women have now filed abuse complaints against Ghomeshi and investigators are looking into reports of a "graphic" video in the network's possession.
Nov. 4: The CBC hires Janice Rubin, a Toronto employment lawyer with expertise in workplace harassment, to lead an independent investigation into the scandal.
Nov. 25: The CBC says Ghomeshi has reached an agreement with the network to withdraw his $55-million lawsuit against the public broadcaster.
Nov. 26: Ghomeshi is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of what is called "overcome resistance -- choking." He is granted bail. His lawyer, Marie Henein, says he will plead not guilty.
Dec. 4, 2014: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province will develop new policies to combat sexual assault and harassment, including steps to encourage more victims to come forward.
Jan 8, 2015: Three new charges of sexual assault are laid against Ghomeshi.
April 16, 2015: An internal investigation into the handling of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal finds the former "Q" host was "deeply disrespectful to employees" and sexually harassed some colleagues. Upper management send a letter to employees apologizing to those "who experienced inappropriate behaviour." The CBC also announces it is "severing ties" with two top executives, Chris Boyce, executive director of CBC Radio, and Todd Spencer, the head of human resources and industrial relations for English services.
May 12, 2015: Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan 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 five charges, including four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
Feb. 1, 2016: Ghomeshi's judge-alone trial gets underway in Toronto.
Feb. 11, 2016: Justice William Horkins says he'll deliver the verdict on March 24.
March 24, 2016: Ghomeshi acquitted on all charges of sexual assault and choking. Judge Horkins said he could not rely on the three complainants given their changing and shifting memories and evidence.
Apr 25, 2016: The prosecution decided against appealing Ghomeshi's acquittal.
May 11, 2016: Ghomeshi apologizes to former CBC colleague Kathryn Borel for his "sexually inappropriate" conduct in the workplace. The apology was made in court before Ghomeshi signed a peace bond in return for having the sexual assault charge against him withdrawn. The conditions of the peace bond included a promise to stay away from Borel and not possess weapons. The peace bond is not a finding of guilt.