The Jian Ghomeshi Trial Begins Tomorrow: Here’s What You Should Know

Though he’s managed to avoid the spotlight for almost a year now, Jian Ghomeshi’s name is about to dominate headlines once again.

The sexual assault trial of CBC’s once golden boy begins tomorrow, February 1st.

As with Ghomeshi’s previous brief court appearances, you can expect a media circus outside of Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse and a subsequent resurgence of Ghomeshi-dominated dinner conversations. The judge-alone trial is expected to last a few weeks.

Here’s exactly what you need to know:

Friday, October 24, 2014
CBC announces that Ghomeshi is taking time off the job “duties “to deal with some personal issues.” Ghomeshi then Tweets to his fans, reassuring them that he is “ok.” There is widespread speculation among fans that the break is related to the death of his father earlier that month.

Sunday, October 26, 2014
CBC announces it has severed ties with the host. Ghomeshi takes to Facebook to offer his side of the story, posting a lengthy message claiming that he had been fired because of a “a campaign of false allegations.” He also reveals that he engaged in “rough sex” and BDSM, but that he only participated in sexual practices that were “mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners. “In a separate Facebook post, he vows to meet the allegations against him “directly.”

Monday, October 27, 2014
The Toronto Star releases a bombshell piece in reaction to Ghomeshi’s Facebook post, shocking the country with allegations of violent assault of a handful of women. The same day, Ghomeshi files a lawsuit against the CBC alleging breach of confidence, bad faith, and defamation; he seeks $55 million plus special damages. A growing number of assault and abuse rumours and stories continue to swirl throughout the week.

Saturday, November 1, 2014
Five days after his dismissal from CBC, Toronto police say they are investigating after two women came forward with allegations. That same day, the CBC issues an internal memo revealing that it had seen “graphic evidence” that Ghomeshi had caused physical harm to a woman. One of the women to come forward is “Trailer Park Boys” actress Lucy DeCoutere, who accused Ghomeshi of choking her “to the point she could not breathe” and slapping her “hard three times on the side of her head.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The CBC says Ghomeshi has reached an agreement to withdraw his $55-million lawsuit against the public broadcaster.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Ghomeshi is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He is released on $100,000 bail and ordered to live with his mother in Thornhill. His lawyer, Toronto-based powerhouse Marie Henein, says he will plead not guilty.

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Three new charges of sexual assault are laid against Ghomeshi. All of the alleged offenses are reported to have occurred between 2002 and 2008.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Two of the sexual assault charges are dropped because the Crown said there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015
Ghomeshi pleads not guilty to five charges, including four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

In addition to the trial that will begin on Monday, Ghomeshi will face a separate trial in June, on one count of sexual assault.

If he’s convicted, it’s likely Ghomeshi serve jail time; a sexual assault conviction can result in sentence of no less than 18 months. The charge of “overcoming resistance by choking” is viewed as serious as attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault by the courts, and carries a potential penalty of “imprisonment for life” under the Canadian Criminal Code.

Though the outcome obviously remains uncertain, what is certain is that – as countless Canadians remain glued to the story – a dialogue concerning consent, women’s rights, and slippery slopes will once again dominate both news feeds and headlines.

And that, at least, is a good thing.