It’s been seventeen months since allegations of abuse against CBC’s once ‘golden boy,’ now disgraced radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, first surfaced.
Of course, it didn’t take long for the allegations, subsequent social media uproar, and rampant gossip to turn into charges, and Ghomeshi was charged with sexually assaulting three women, one of whom is Lucy DeCoutere from Trailer Park Boys (the other two can’t be identified under a publication ban). Ghomeshi plead not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking to overcome resistance.
You can see a timeline of key points leading up to the trial here.
The anticipated trial, which began on February 1, saw the complainants meticulously (and some say unfairly) scrutinized by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Heinen, who managed to undermine their credibility (and their memories) by presenting correspondence between the accusers and Ghomeshi after the alleged attacks. She ruthlessly highlighted other inconsistencies in their stories, inspiring a powerful dialogue about the treatment of sexual assault complainants in the courts.
When he arrived at Old City Hall this morning around 9:30am, Ghomeshi was not only met with a circus of media reporters (a familiar scene in this high-profile trial), but also with sign-shaking protesters, chanting for his conviction. Later today, a rally and march in support of victims of sexual assault will be held in downtown Toronto, as promised last week, regardless of the verdict.
Today, after an hour of reading his reasons for judgement by Ontario Court Justice William Horkins, found Ghomeshi not guilty of all charges.
“If you are sure the accused is guilty you must convict, but if you have doubt — or even think someone ‘is probably guilty’ but are not quite certain — you must acquit, Horkins said.” His full reasoning will be posted online (and likely be referenced in classrooms for years to come). The short of it though, was the highlighting of the inconsistencies that undermine the credibility of the complaints’ accounts of their interactions, which involved “the suppressing” of evidence, and “deception under oath” (i.e. “playing a game of chicken” with the defence system). Ultimately leaving the judge to conclude that “The volume of serious deficiencies in the evidence leaves the court with a reasonable doubt.”
But that doesn’t mean that the legal battle is over for Ghomeshi; he faces another trial in June on one remaining count of sexual assault relating to a workplace incident.
As for the potential resurrection of his career, well, that’s a whole other issue.