Judge expected to deliver decision in Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault trial today

By , on March 24, 2016


Jian Ghomeshi is set to learn his fate today. (Photo: Canadian Film Centre/Flickr)
Jian Ghomeshi is set to learn his fate today.
(Photo: Canadian Film Centre/Flickr)

TORONTO—Jian Ghomeshi is set to learn his fate today as an Ontario judge is expected to deliver a decision in the disgraced broadcaster’s closely watched sexual assault trial.

Ghomeshi—the one-time host of CBC Radio’s popular culture show “Q”—pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

He didn’t testify in his own defence and expressed little emotion at his two-week trial, which sparked a broad conversation on the challenges of reporting and prosecuting sexual assault.

Justice William Horkins, who presided over the case, has had more than a month to mull over the evidence presented in court, the bulk of which came from the three women who accused Ghomeshi of sexually assaulting them at various times between 2002 and 2003.

The Crown argued that the women were “unshaken” in their allegations against the 48-year-old, but his defence team countered that all three complainants were unreliable witnesses who lied under oath.

If convicted on the sexual assault charges, Ghomeshi faces a maximum of 18 months in prison. A conviction on the choking charge could bring a potential life sentence.

Ghomeshi’s trial drew long lines of observers to a downtown Toronto courthouse in February.

The testimony of his accusers and their cross-examination by his high-profile defence lawyer Marie Henein led to moments of intense drama in court.

The first complainant testified that Ghomeshi suddenly yanked on her hair when they were kissing in his car in late 2002. A few days later, she said he abruptly pulled her hair while they were kissing in his home and started punching her in the head.

The second complainant, actress Lucy DeCoutere—the only woman who can be identified in the case—told the trial Ghomeshi suddenly pushed her against a wall, started choking her and slapping her face when they were kissing in his bedroom in the summer of 2003.

The third woman testified that while kissing Ghomeshi on a park bench in 2003, he suddenly bit her shoulder and started squeezing her neck with her hands.

Under cross examination from Henein, however, the trial learned that the first woman sent friendly emails and a bikini photo to Ghomeshi after her alleged assaults, asking him to contact her. She said she sent the emails as “bait,” so she could demand an explanation for the alleged assaults. The woman also testified that she didn’t remember the emails when she spoke with police.

During DeCoutere’s cross-examination, Henein produced an email the actress sent Ghomeshi hours after the alleged assault in which she expressed a desire to have sex with him. She also produced a hand-written letter the actress sent him days later that ended with the words: “I love your hands.”

The third complainant acknowledged under questioning from Henein that she deliberately misled investigators by not initially telling them she had a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi a few days after the alleged assault. Henein also revealed that the woman and DeCoutere exchanged thousands of messages in which they discussed their allegations and their shared contempt for him.

Ghomeshi still faces a separate trial in June on a single count of sexual assault.