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Ghomeshi’s lawyer attacks credibility of third accuser

Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto court with his legal team for day five of his trial on Feb. 8.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The third and final complainant in Jian Ghomeshi's trial for sexual assault and choking testified on Monday that the disgraced CBC personality grabbed her throat and covered her mouth without warning while they were kissing in a park at the end of a dinner date in July, 2003.

But, as with the previous two witnesses, Mr. Ghomeshi's defence counsel Marie Henein accused the woman of lying to authorities about significant details of her relationship with the former host. And Ms. Henein suggested the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, worked with the complainant Lucy DeCoutere after allegations broke in the fall of 2014 in a malicious orchestrated effort to bring the former star down to Earth.

Ms. Henein noted that, between October, 2014, when the allegations about Mr. Ghomeshi became public, and September, 2015, the two women exchanged about 5,000 messages, including some that discussed strategy for the woman to use in pursuing charges.

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The woman, who is a part of the Canadian arts community, knew Mr. Ghomeshi in passing before she met him in the summer of 2003 at a dance festival in Toronto. The two went for dinner one night, then to a park where, she said, they were "making out" when "some kind of switch happened," and Mr. Ghomeshi began to attack her. "There was nothing about this that I wanted to be a part of. It didn't feel safe or sexy."

She extracted herself and left quickly. Still, the woman saw Mr. Ghomeshi again for another date some days later because "he's charming," and "you second-guess yourself." She added that she is the sort of person "to give other people second and third and fourth chances." The two went back to her home for a "romantic encounter" that became the subject of heated arguments in court over the fact that the woman disclosed to police only late last week precisely what unfolded on that second night.

Echoing the previous two witnesses, the woman suggested she was a naif in the justice system and was unaware before the trial began of how much she was expected to reveal about her relationship with Mr. Ghomeshi.

Ms. Henein would have none of it, noting that the complainant revealed to police only last Friday that the second date concluded with her sexually pleasuring Mr. Ghomeshi by hand. "What I understood I was being asked was the events that happened that were bad," the woman replied. "And – it's embarrassing."

Ms. Henein pounced, pointing out that the woman had been told before her first statement to police, in December, 2014, to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," about her dealings with Mr. Ghomeshi.

"Do you agree that's a lie there, under oath, to the police?" Ms. Henein said.

"It's an omission," the woman replied. "It's a misjudgment."

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"This is my first kick at the can," she added, referring to the legal system. "All of my conversations with Lucy, that's just two friends talking for support, that's what women do. So, you'll forgive me if I didn't follow along the guidelines of what I'm supposed to do, but I don't know how to navigate this stuff. I'm doing the best I can."

Earlier in the day, Ms. Henein questioned the woman about the advice she received from Ms. DeCoutere about pursuing charges against Mr. Ghomeshi. Ms. Henein noted that Ms. DeCoutere, who has become an advocate for sexual assault survivors since making her allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi, had facilitated introductions for the woman to both a publicist and a lawyer who could help as she navigated the media and legal firestorm. "I'll do whatever I can to put this predator where he belongs," the woman told Ms. DeCoutere.

Ms. Henein read a handful of the women's exchanges into the record, including a few in which they take delight in imagining Mr. Ghomeshi becoming fat, bald, and incontinent while awaiting trial.

The Crown indicated late on Monday it intends to call only one more witness in the judge-only trial being heard by Justice William Horkins of the Ontario Court of Justice. That witness, who was due to travel to Toronto from rural Nova Scotia, has been delayed by weather. The Crown and counsel for the defence are scheduled make arguments on Tuesday morning about the admissibility of the witness.

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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