Former radio star Jian Ghomeshi allegedly made inappropriate advances at a young journalist who attended a taping of his popular show “Q” in hopes of securing a job with CBC, according to a media report published Monday.
The Toronto Star reports the incident, which allegedly took place two years ago inside a CBC studio, led the unnamed woman’s alma mater to warn students against seeking internships at Ghomeshi’s popular radio show.
Neither Ghomeshi, his lawyer, nor the CBC could be reached immediately for comment on Monday.
Jeremy Copeland, a journalism lecturer at Western University in London, Ont., told the Star and other media outlets he discouraged a female student from applying for an internship at the show this fall after hearing of Ghomeshi’s alleged behaviour toward a recent graduate.
In her account to the Star, the woman said Ghomeshi invited her to talk alone in the studio and then hugged her twice from behind in ways that seemed “weird” and “a bit much” to her.
She said he later texted to ask her out for a drink, but stopped when she suggested he could help her land a job.
Three women have filed complaints against Ghomeshi with Toronto police, who have launched a criminal investigation. The force has confirmed one of the accusers is “Trailer Park Boys” star Lucy DeCoutere.
Ghomeshi has said he has engaged in rough sex, but that it was always consensual, and said he was fired from CBC because of the risk that his sex life would become public “as a result of a campaign of false allegations.”
In a Facebook post last week, he said he plans to confront allegations “directly,” but said he won’t discuss “this matter” further with the media. None of the allegations against him that have surfaced in the media has been proven.
As many as nine women have come forward to media outlets, with accusations of assault and sexual assault, but until Friday none had approached police. Only one so far has alleged she was a victim of abuse in the workplace.
Copeland told the Toronto TV station CP24 he didn’t alert police after hearing allegations that Ghomeshi had made “what sounds like inappropriate advances” at a former Western student because it wasn’t his story to tell.
“I was shocked, but she did not want to talk about this story, she did not want to go forward with it (and) I respected her decision on that,” he said.
“If it had been an intern, there would have been no question, we would have done that, but this isn’t an intern, this is a young professional journalist who was out there trying to get a job at the CBC.”
Due to the precarious nature of their jobs, interns are unlikely to file complaints if they experience workplace harassment or abuse, even though they’re covered by human rights laws, said Claire Seaborn, president and founder of the Canadian Intern Association.
“The burden falls on the employer as well as the academic institution to be supporting interns, who are in the most vulnerable position, as to what their rights are,” said Seaborn, who is articling at a Toronto law firm.
Colleges and universities are “essentially not screening the employers closely enough and they’re not providing the interns with enough resources in order to go into with the internship knowing what their rights are and what to expect from it,” she said.
Carleton University issued a statement Monday saying it had searched its records and found 73 of its journalism students had placements at the CBC’s Toronto headquarters between 2003 and this year. Of those, it said only one had worked at “Q” and the school has “no information at this time that would lead us to believe there has been any connection between any of our students and the allegations that have been raised.”
Seaborn suggested workplaces consider systems allowing for anonymous complaints, which would make some feel more comfortable about flagging abusive behaviour.
But one human resources expert panned the idea, arguing anonymous reporting would make it difficult to investigate allegations.
Christian Codrington, director of regulatory affairs and member value for British Columbia’s Human Resources Management Association, said many organizations already have policies that include non-reprisal clauses to prevent those accused of harassment or abuse from retaliating.
Organizations that are federally regulated must comply with the Canada Labour Code in how they deal with workplace safety and harassment, while the provinces set the rules for organizations that fall under their jurisdiction. There is little variation between the provinces when it comes to workplace safeguards, Codrington said.
The CBC has hired an independent investigator to look at its handling of the situation after at least one former employee said she had complained about his behaviour to a union rep, who spoke to his executive producer, but nothing substantive was done.
Ghomeshi, 47, has launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. He has also filed a grievance alleging dismissal without proper cause that damaged his reputation.Report Typo/Error