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Ghomeshi acquitted: Read the verdict and catch up on what you missed

Once one of CBC Radio’s star hosts, Jian Ghomeshi was tried on charges of sexual assault. But on Thursday, the judge questioned the three complainants’ credibility and said they were ‘less than full, frank and forthcoming’ in their version of events. Here’s a recap of the trial, profiles of the key people involved and more background.

Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto courthouse on March 24, 2016, for the verdict in his trial.

Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto courthouse on March 24, 2016, for the verdict in his trial.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

THE CASE

Justice William Horkins found Jian Ghomeshi not guilty of all charges on Thursday in the first of the former CBC broadcaster’s two sexual-assault trials. Mr. Ghomeshi, the complainants and their lawyers appeared in a Toronto courtroom to hear the verdict, which the judge read aloud for almost 90 minutes.

Below, you’ll find a complete day-by-day recap of our coverage of the trial. Here’s a roundup of key testimony from the three complainants, and Simon Houpt’s analysis of the defence team’s overall strategy.

Mr. Ghomeshi will face trial in June on an additional charge of sexual assault stemming from an alleged workplace incident in January, 2008, when he was host of Q on CBC Radio One.




THE VERDICT: FULL TEXT

Ghomeshi ruling

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PREVIOUSLY IN COURT


Day 1: Witness’s memory put to the test

Feb. 1: The trial began with one of the complainants testifying that, after her relationship with Mr. Ghomeshi began, he made a “sudden switch” from charm to brutality, and he punched her in the head and pulled her hair. Defence lawyer Marie Henein sharply questioned the reliability of the complainant’s memory and, at times, her honesty. “When you went on national TV to tell your story, I’m going to suggest that you lied,” Ms. Henein said. “I did not lie,” replied the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban. “That’s how I am with memories – that’s how most people are. The longer you sit with the memory, the more clear.”



Day 2: ‘I didn’t go to police because I didn’t want – this’

Feb. 2: In cross-examination, Ms. Henein accused one of the complainants of having lied under oath, confronting her with e-mails showing that she had reached out to Mr. Ghomeshi, despite having said she wanted no contact with him because she was so traumatized by his actions. One e-mail included a photo of the complainant in a red bikini. The complainant said the e-mails were “bait” to get Mr. Ghomeshi to contact her, so she could ask him about the assault.

Jian Ghomeshi, lawyer's assistant Danielle Robitaille, defence lawyer Marie Henein, Justice William Horkins and a witness appear in court on Feb. 2.

Jian Ghomeshi, defence co-counsel Danielle Robitaille, defence lawyer Marie Henein, Justice William Horkins and a witness appear in court on Feb. 2.

ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD/THE CANADIAN PRESS



Day 3: ‘It’s outrageous that I stayed’

Feb. 4: Lucy-Anne DeCoutere, the only complainant in the case whose identity was not protected by a publication ban, testified Thursday about a date with Mr. Ghomeshi in July, 2003. She alleged that, when the two went back to Mr. Ghomeshi’s house, he slapped her without warning and choked her until she couldn’t breathe.

Witness Lucy DeCoutere, second from right, is questioned by Crown attorney Corie Langdon, right, as Jian Ghomeshi and Justice William Horkins listen in court on Feb. 4, 2016.

Witness Lucy DeCoutere, second from right, is questioned by Crown attorney Corie Langdon, right, as Jian Ghomeshi and Justice William Horkins listen in court on Feb. 4, 2016.

ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD/THE CANADIAN PRESS



Day 4: Following the e-mail trail

Feb. 5: Continuing her cross-examination of Ms. DeCoutere, Ms. Henein presented court with an affectionate six-page letter from Ms. DeCoutere to Mr. Ghomeshi, sent days after the alleged assault. But Ms. DeCoutere said the letter – as well as other e-mails with Mr. Ghomeshi over a period of more than two years – don’t change the fact that she was assaulted. The e-mails, which Mr. Ghomeshi kept in his personal archive, also renewed discussion in legal circles of how “digital debris” – electronic records of one’s personal past – can play an increasing role in criminal and civil trials.

Violence against women not about women’s behaviour: lawyer in Ghomeshi case

1:35



Day 5: ‘It didn’t feel safe or sexy’

Feb. 8: The third complainant testified that, at the end of a dinner date in July, 2003, she and Mr. Ghomeshi were kissing in a Toronto park when he grabbed her throat and covered her mouth without warning. In cross-examination, Ms. Henein accused the woman of having lied to authorities. The third complainant had initially said she was friends with another complainant, but hadn’t discussed specifics of the allegations. But Ms. Henein noted that the woman and Ms. DeCoutere had exchanged about 5,000 messages between October, 2014, and September, 2015, sometimes discussing strategy in pursuing charges against Mr. Ghomeshi.

Jian Ghomeshi, Justice William Horkins, defence lawyer Marie Henein, the third complainant and Crown attorney Michael Callaghan appear at the trial in Toronto on Feb. 8.

Jian Ghomeshi, Justice William Horkins, defence lawyer Marie Henein, the third complainant and Crown attorney Michael Callaghan appear at the trial in Toronto on Feb. 8.

ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD/THE CANADIAN PRESS


Day 6: A new witness

Feb. 9: The Crown pressed Justice William Horkins to allow a final witness to be deemed admissible, saying she would corroborate Ms. DeCoutere’s version of events. Mr. Ghomeshi’s defence team opposed this, saying Ms. DeCoutere’s cross-examination showed she had been dishonest. The judge decided to hear the evidence.

Mr. Ghomeshi walks past demonstrators as he arrives at court on Feb. 9.

Mr. Ghomeshi walks past demonstrators as he arrives at court on Feb. 9.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS


Day 7: The final witness is heard

Feb. 10: The Crown concluded its case by presenting the judge with a transcript of a police statement from actress Sarah Dunsworth – who was identified as the final Crown witness – and Facebook messages between Ms. Dunsworth and Ms. DeCoutere, her co-worker from Trailer Park Boys.


Day 8: The trial ends

Feb. 11: Justice Horkins heard the Crown and defence’s closing arguments before saying he would deliver his verdict on March 24. Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan said the credibility of Ghomeshi’s three accusers has nothing to do with the way they behaved after the alleged incidents, since the law is clear that everyone responds differently to sexual assault. Defence lawyers Marie Henein and Danielle Robitaille said that the three women were unreliable witnesses who withheld information from police and lied to the court.

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WHO’S WHO, AND WHAT’S WHAT

The accused: Jian Ghomeshi, former member of the band Moxy Fruvous and host of the CBC arts and culture show Q, was let go by the broadcaster in 2014 after it saw what it called “graphic evidence” that he had physically injured a woman. Mr. Ghomeshi said in an Oct. 26, 2014, Facebook post that he engaged in “rough” but consensual sex with women. Media reports of the allegations against him led to multiple women coming forward with allegations of abusive behaviour, and Toronto police began investigating some of them. In November, 2014, Mr. Ghomeshi turned himself in to police.

The prosecution: Colleagues described Crown counsel Michael Callaghan, 43, to The Globe as a firm but fair prosecutor respected by the courts. He is known for successfully prosecuting Zhou Fang, a Toronto man who fatally shot his abusive father with a crossbow in 2010 – a case the presiding judge deemed “exceptionally difficult,” according to media reports at the time. Read Simon Houpt’s profile of Mr. Callaghan.

Marie Henein leaves a Toronto court on May 12, 2015.

Marie Henein leaves a Toronto court on May 12, 2015.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The defence: Mr. Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, has defended in some of the country’s highest-profile criminal cases, including former Nova Scotia premier Gerald Regan’s acquittal on sexual assault charges. Former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, whom she successfully defended against charges criminal negligence and dangerous driving in 2009, recalled in his memoir that she seemed to “channel Hannibal Lecter” for her ability to “find a person’s deepest frailties and exploit them.” Read Patrick White’s profile of Ms. Henein.

The judge: Ontario judge William Horkins is no stranger to hot-button issues. Three years ago, he ruled that police street checks – also known as carding – were unconstitutional, a debate that carries on among many police forces to this day. He nonetheless allowed the gun found during a carding stop to be entered as evidence and found the accused guilty of unauthorized possession of an unauthorized firearm.

A promotional poster in the hallway of the CBC broadcast centre in Toronto in 2014.

A promotional poster in the hallway of the CBC broadcast centre in Toronto in 2014.

ROGER HALLETT/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

What about the CBC? Separately, the broadcaster ordered its own third-party investigation into workplace harassment and abuse in connection with the Ghomeshi scandal, and severed ties with two executives as a result. Read Simon Houpt and James Bradshaw’s behind-the-scenes account of the decisions leading up to the CBC firing Mr. Ghomeshi.

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WHAT WAS HE CHARGED WITH?

  • Number of charges: Four counts of sexual assault, one count of choking.
  • Number of complainants: Three.
  • The details: The incidents were alleged to have taken place between December, 2002, and July, 2003, when Mr. Ghomeshi was the host of the arts show play on CBC-TV’s Newsworld channel.

With reports from Simon Houpt, Patrick White and The Canadian Press


RECOMMENDED READING

Legal primer: What qualifies as consensual sex?

2:30

Leah McLaren: Five important takeaways from the Ghomeshi trial How can a verdict not be the most important thing about a trial? In a case as high-profile as this one, the noise around the event became so deafening that it almost succeeded in drowning out the evidence and legal arguments themselves.
Zosia Bielski: How politeness conditioning can lead to confusion about sexual assaults For many women, their value is tied up in being a peacemaker, in being a fixer of problems, in being “nice,” even at a cost to themselves.
Margaret Wente: The biggest losers in the Ghomeshi debacle They are many victims of sexual assault who now, because of this fiasco, will be more reluctant than ever to come forward.


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