The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is hiring an outside investigator to probe allegations of abusive behaviour by ex-host Jian Ghomeshi that have been made by a growing number of women.
"Over the last 12 hours, as you undoubtedly already know, we have become aware of further accounts of impropriety towards our employees (and other individuals) through another Toronto Star story, on As It Happens last night and again this morning on The Current," read a memo sent to staff on Thursday afternoon. "These reports are extremely disturbing and of great concern to all of us."
The memo, issued in the name of Heather Conway, the executive vice president of English services, said "Given the serious nature of what has been reported, we are currently in the process of selecting a third-party company who will conduct a rigorous, independent investigation beyond what's already done."
Also on Thursday, the public relations firm Navigator released a statement saying that it was no longer advising Mr. Ghomeshi. "Regrettably, the circumstances of our engagement have changed and we are no longer able to continue," the statement reads. "No further comment will be issued." As well, rock-it promotions, which had been handling some of Mr. Ghomeshi's media requests, said on Twitter that it "will no longer be representing Jian Ghomeshi."
Separately, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters that no police investigation of Mr. Ghomeshi was underway.
"We have not received a complaint of any criminality for us to investigate," he said Thursday afternoon. "But we have heard the media reports, and we want to make sure that anyone who has experienced that and believes they are the victim of a sexual assault or any form of assault, to come forward and report it. But if they choose not to, we still want to be able to connect them with the services that we think can help them in their recovery from that traumatic experience."
On Wednesday evening, the Toronto Star published the accounts of eight women who said they were physically abused by Mr. Ghomeshi, including four it had already written about on Sunday evening. One of those women was a CBC producer in Montreal who met Mr. Ghomeshi in hopes of securing a job on his show, Q. She is the second CBC employee to allege abuse by the former host. The first one, a Q staff member, said Mr. Ghomeshi had uttered a sexual threat in 2007, and had groped her on another occasion.
The CBC memo also said employee assistance counsellors have been brought in to the Toronto broadcast centre help staff manage the revelations.
Actress Lucy DeCoutere, whose allegations of physical assault were published in The Star on Wednesday evening, told CBC's morning current affairs show The Current on Thursday that she had allowed herself to be identified in hopes of encouraging other victims to come forward.
The CBC's memo promised more information would be forthcoming. "On a personal note, I have to say, I am proud of the professionalism that you've all shown over the last number of days in the face of some difficult and disturbing news. We will continue to update you as often as necessary," Ms. Conway wrote. "Thank for your patience and your support."
With a report from Susan Krashinsky