CBC management says in new documentary from the public broadcaster's program The Fifth Estate that it thoroughly canvassed those who worked with former radio host Jian Ghomeshi as far back as June, when allegations surfaced about his conduct, but the report itself contradicts that claim.
CBC executive director of radio Chris Boyce, in a documentary on Friday night, said that after being presented with troubling allegations about Mr. Ghomeshi over the Canada Day weekend, he and other managers spoke to some of the host's colleagues. It is the first time Mr. Boyce has spoken publicly on the subject. Mr. Boyce said all of those questioned said they had never been harassed by Mr. Ghomeshi, nor had they seen or heard of any other inappropriate behaviour on his part.
But as many as 16 employees of Mr. Ghomeshi's show, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, told The Fifth Estate no one ever approached them. Host Gillian Findlay described that discrepancy as "shocking."
Mr. Boyce declined to explain further on the program, saying it was subject to an independent investigation being conducted by lawyer Janice Rubin.
He also could not explain why, in October, after Mr. Ghomeshi showed him evidence of what Mr. Boyce described as physical harm done to a woman, he did not contact police.
"If I could do it again, would I go to the police, maybe," Mr. Boyce says, according to a transcript provided by CBC. "I had no evidence of anything. I didn't have the evidence myself. Um…It's a good question."
Mr. Ghomeshi appeared in a Toronto court this week charged with several counts of sexual assault. CBC dismissed him in late October, shortly after he met with Mr. Boyce and showed him photos that Mr. Boyce said were at odds with his previous descriptions of a vengeful ex-girlfriend seeking to destroy his reputation with revelations about a sex life that was "not vanilla."
This documentary, produced by colleagues who worked in the same building, describes Mr. Ghomeshi as "as big a star as the CBC has ever had." His dramatic fall from grace raises troubling questions, the show says, about what CBC managers knew, when they knew it, and what they did in response.
The unravelling began in Winnipeg in March, when Mr. Ghomeshi broke down in front of two Q producers, the report said. He confessed that he liked rough sex, nothing that could be considered illegal, but was worried that an ex-girlfriend would use that information to destroy him in the court of public opinion. A few weeks later, he told one of those producers the ex-girlfriend had a Twitter account under the name BIGEARSTEDDY and was posting messages about him. The producer looked up the account and was troubled by what he found, which included allegations of punching and choking.
Mr. Ghomeshi spoke to Mr. Boyce about the allegations in May.
"He looked into my eyes and he said, 'I have never crossed any ethical or legal line,'" Mr. Boyce said in the broadcast.
On the Canada Day weekend, in response to questions from journalist Jesse Brown, who told some Q staff that women had come forward and that the behaviour might have crossed into the workplace, an emergency meeting was called at CBC, the report said.
Two Q producers, Brian Coulton and Sean Foley, were present, as were Mr. Boyce and another CBC manager. The Q producers told their bosses what they knew, based on the questions they had received and the messages posted on Twitter. They say the bosses seemed surprised. The producers were confident their superiors would take action.
Mr. Boyce said in the documentary that what he heard that day was, in fact, not news to him.
The Fifth Estate documentary said that managers then looked into Mr. Ghomeshi's human resources file, questioned the host again, and said they spoke to a wide range of people who work with him, all of whom said they saw nothing amiss. That last claim is contradicted by what the Q employees told the Fifth Estate.
"You understand that this suggests that there really was no investigation," Ms. Findlay asked Mr. Boyce. "That armed with that information that you had on that weekend, about allegations of assault, about allegations coming from a series of women – choking, punching – that there really was no investigation?"
Mr. Boyce replied that the majority of the allegations at that point did not cross over into the workplace, and that his job is not to act as the police. According to the documentary, the producers who had brought their concerns to management were told a short while later that the investigation had turned up nothing. One was subsequently moved to another show. The other asked to have as little contact as possible with the host.
The final act came in October, when Mr. Ghomeshi believed a story about these allegations was going to be published, the report says. He went to Mr. Boyce again, this time armed with evidence that Mr. Boyce said he believes was intended to prove his sexual activity was consensual. Mr. Boyce said it showed a woman who had been harmed. It was at that point that CBC decided to dismiss Mr. Ghomeshi. But it took another three days for that to happen.
Mr. Ghomeshi said in a message posted on Facebook that weekend that CBC gave him the choice to walk away quietly. Mr. Boyce said in the documentary that is not true.
"I can tell you categorically that we never presented him the opportunity to walk away quietly and when presented with the information that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman, we moved quickly to immediately remove [him] from the air and commence termination proceedings," Mr. Boyce said.