One chapter of Jian Ghomeshi’s legal battles drew to a close on Thursday morning after an emotional trial. Back in 2014, the disgraced Canadian radio personality was dismissed by the CBC after several women accused him of sexual assault. He later struck back by claiming the women engaged in consensual rough sex. He also believed he was fired because his private sex life was brought into the public eye “by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.” The controversial case, which involved three separate plaintiffs, spanned an eight-day courtroom proceeding and a month of judge-only deliberations. In the end, the court acquitted Ghomeshi on four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking.
Judge William Horkins announced his decision in open court. He pointed out that prosecutors simply failed to prove Ghomeshi’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, Horkins asserted testimony inconsistencies and a lack of DNA or other “smoking gun” to establish proof. Many legal experts predicted that witness testimony wouldn’t be enough for convictions in this case, but Horkins was quick to claim that a lack of proof doesn’t mean the assaults never happened.
After the verdict was announced, a false quote (which has been picked up by several outlets, but was tweeted and deleted) attributed these words to Horkins: “We must fight against the stereotype that all sexual assault complaints are truthful.” What Horkins really said was this:
“The courts must be very cautious in assessing the evidence of complainants in sexual assault and abuse cases. Courts must guard against applying false stereotypes concerning the expected conduct of complainants. I have a firm understanding that the reasonableness of reactive human behavior in the dynamics of a relationship can be variable and unpredictable. However, the twists and turns of the complainants’ evidence in this trial, illustrate the need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful. Each individual and each unique factual scenario must be assessed according to their own particular circumstances.”
After the proceedings concluded, Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan was confronted by a topless female protester who shouted, “Ghomeshi guilty!” Protests began outside the courthouse early this morning and will continue with a solidarity rally for sexual assault survivors at 5:30 p.m.
Ghomeshi will return to court in June on separate allegations that he groped the rear end of a CBC employee while saying, “I want to hate-f*ck you.”