On Wednesday evening, CBC Radio One's flagship current affairs show As It Happens aired an interview with a woman who said she had been physically assaulted by the former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi about 10 years ago. This is The Globe's transcript of that interview conducted by host Carol Off.
How did you first meet?
I met Jian about – over 10 years ago, and it was a Christmas media party. I had friends who knew him and worked with him, but I myself had never met him. At the party, he was smitten with me, and I was, you know, taken by his charm. He's a very charismatic man, no question.
Did you want to go out with him?
At the time, I just thought we were having a connection, but I didn't know he was going to ask me to come out with him. But when he did, I said yes. I was just coming out of a relationship, a very long one, and I hadn't dated for a long time. So I was liking the attention and thought he was a charming man.
Can you describe that first date you had?
He first asked me to come to a taping of his show. I did. And after the show – he noticed me at the show, he lit up: You came! And we hung out a little bit with some of his colleagues and then we went off alone to a pub and just chatted. There was absolutely nothing about that that gave me any indication that there was anything to worry about. He was charming, that would be the word I would give Jian, is charming. Then after he drove me back to my car. And we chatted in the car. And he was getting flirty. So in the car, he was looking like he wanted to do a little more, and then he asked me if I would undo my buttons. And I said no – because I didn't know you. And then he reached over and grabbed my hair very hard, and pulled my head back. And it really took me off guard. I don't know precisely exactly what he was saying, but I am thinking it was something along the lines of: Do you like this? And I don't know what I said. But it was a weeknight, and it was late, and I had to go
How did you feel about that – when you got out of the car and you got in your own car, what were you thinking about that experience?
First - I didn't like it. That's not my style. Also, 'Did I miss something? Not dating for a while?' Also, I kind of put it to, that – if a couple gets together, there's always a learning curve and it can be, you know, 'Don't hit me so hard, or don't kiss me like that, or whatever. But that wasn't part of my repertoire, ever. I was more shy, and I just thought, I'll figure it out later.
Why did you agree to see him again?
Because, like I say, I hadn't dated for awhile and I did like him. And all the time I spent with him up to that point was great. There was nothing about him I didn't like. And that, I thought – Maybe he's just a little too rough and I can sort it out.
What happened on the second date?
I went to another taping of the show but we didn't hang out after that. But I went to another one, and there was a big snowstorm, and a girlfriend of mine came. So at the end of the night – we had taken the subway and didn't drive that night, it was just too treacherous. So at the end of the night, he asked me to come out with him, and I said, 'Well, I have my friend here.' And he agreed to drop her at a subway. And then we went on to his house. And when we were at his house, it was fine – he put music on, I was looking at his living room, he had some interesting things in there. Again, we were flirty, but in that flirting he grabbed my hair, again, but even harder, threw me on the ground, and started closed-fist pounding me in the head. Repeatedly, until my ears were ringing, and I started to cry.
Did you struggle?
No. I was in shock. When you get hit in the head, everything rings and it's hard to do anything but try to - there was no conversation about, I like – anything. He didn't ask me if I like to be hit. He didn't ask me – I wasn't expecting it, and he hit me repeatedly.
On the head, always on the head?
On one side of my head, over and over. And I'm on the floor, and then I'm in tears, and he said: You need to go.
What did you say?
I didn't say much at all after that. I got in a cab and cried all the way to my friend's place. I didn't even go home. I was a mess, I went to my friend's place and stayed at her house, and cried all night.
Your friend is a nurse, isn't she?
We've spoken with her and she says you did arrive in this state. What state were you in, when you arrived at your friend's house?
In tears. I was just a mess and she was saying typical friend things. Like, you know, he's not worth it, you can do better. At this point, it's like, Wow, why did I even - ? Because at this point, like I said, I hadn't been dating...She was comforting, in a typical friend way. People have asked me, Why didn't you press charges? That's a tough one.
Why didn't you?
It's too difficult to prove, it's embarrassing. In the moment, myself, I was so distraught, all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner. I wasn't expecting to go out with this man who was seemingly charming and nice and – I come from an educated family, and I thought: Wow, my dad would really like you. And then to get physically abused like that. It was shocking. I didn't expect it, at all.
Did your friend, who is a nurse, did she see any physical signs of this beating?
No. Not that she mentioned. He hit me in the head. I wasn't bleeding, I wasn't –it was just more of the trauma of being hit in the head.
There was no need to seek medical attention, then?
This was more than a decade ago, as you said. Did you ever think at any time when you review it that, perhaps you should have gone to the police?
Yes. I couldn't just forget about it, I was constantly reminded. I'm remarried now, and my husband knows about it, but every time we hear Jian on television, or you know, commercials for CBC or anything, I have to turn it off quickly, because I can never look at him without thinking of this – I can't understand why this man who – he's such a great TV personality, and radio personality - has this dark, dark side to him. It's been hard, because I've had to just suppress it and just put it down to some bad experience.
But when this came to light a few days ago, it gave me permission to speak, and I thought, Maybe someone will listen to me now. Because I don't think if I'd said anything back then, that anyone would care.
Did you compare notes with anyone? You know some of his circle of friends, did you ever feel that you should say, Hey, do you know if this happened to anyone else?
No. There's actually only one person in his circle of friends I'm speaking to because it's a very sensitive subject with the rest because – it's hard for some people to understand, because they've only seen the side that I saw [before]. And to see that other side, you have to be behind closed doors.
He has written, as you know, a Facebook post. Jian Ghomeshi says in this that he has 'adventurous forms of sex that include dominance and submission, and that implication that this was not consensual is a lie.' What do you say to that?
That's what made me - infuriated me. Because there was nothing to prepare me for this. Nothing. There was no talk – other than what I said in the car, when he pulled my hair, I think he might have been saying, Do you like it rough? But there was no, 'We're going to engage in this type of play.' We were fully clothed, we weren't having sex. We weren't even at that point in our time together, in our relationship. So there was nothing, it came out of nowhere. And during that time, I was wondering: Is he going to keep beating me? What is this? This isn't something I'm familiar with. I don't understand why he didn't say to me: Okay, I like to do this, and this and this and this, and when you're not looking I'm going to start hitting you in the head and throw you on the floor.
And why did he stop?
Probably because of my tears. And he realized maybe I wasn't game? I really don't know. Why did he start was my question. Why did he start without asking?
What do you want to happen with your story, telling your story? He's been fired. Where do you want this to go? What do you want people to do with what you're saying?
Now that it's not just me against him, I wish there was some way that I could press charges against him now. It's been a long time. I don't know that I can anymore.
Have you been in touch with any other woman, attempted to get in touch with them?
No. I don't know any of the other women.
We're going to leave it there. Again, we're not using your name. But again, I appreciate you speaking with us, and we will be following this story. Thank you.
- Simon Houpt