Ghomeshi's Case

For those who don’t know, Jian Ghomeshi is - or was - a celebrity television and radio personality in Canada. Recently, he went to trial on four counts of sexual assault based on accusations of three different women.

He was acquitted.

The verdict was “met with dismay by many.” This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like. “From the beginning, I believe women,” said Sandy Miranda. “I’m no legal expert, but… as we saw, the justice system is broken.”

“I’d fail the Ghomeshi courtroom test too,” wrote Lauren Pelley, for the Toronto Star.

The verdict would have a “chilling effect,” wrote Anne Kingston.

Catherine Porter writes, Ghomeshi trial proves one thing: we need a different system

NOW Toronto wrote, "It’s the Crown’s job to educate the judge, and they failed in the Ghomeshi case. Time to mobilize like we did 50 years ago to train people in power to believe women."

In his opinion, the judge said the women had lied.

In trial, the first woman testified she was so traumatized by Ghomeshi’s assault, she couldn’t listen to his radio show, or see him on TV. But in emails, produced at trial, she said his show was “great,” and asked him to review a video she had made. She asked him to contact her. When he didn’t, she sent him a picture of herself in a string bikini.

The second woman said, both in sworn statements to police, and in media appearances, that she avoided Ghomeshi after the assaults. At trial, however, she admitted sending an email in which she said she wanted to “play” with him, and hoped to have “a chance encounter in a broom closet.” When his response was noncommittal, she said she’d “beat the crap” out of him if they didn’t spend time together. She sent him flowers, and said she wanted to “fuck [his] brains out”.

The third woman said that, after the assault, she was afraid of Ghomeshi, and “always kept her distance.” At trial she admitted that after the alleged assault, she took him to her home, where they slept together and they “messed around.” Six months later she emailed him and asked if he “still wanted to have a drink sometime?"
So who to believe?

Is the media right? Is this a failure of the Canadian judicial system?

Or is the judge right?

There is already a thread about this here.

True, but I hate resurrecting zombies. In any case, this thread is better.

For example, take this article in Slate.

The judge’s opinion is here, so you can decide whether it smacked a “deep-seated mistrust of women” for yourself.

As for victim-blaming: a person is only a victim if a crime was committed against him. Using the word “victim” to describe a complaining witness prejudges the guilt of the accused. It assumes the defendant is guilty, or else the witness wouldn’t be a victim.

I infer Christina Cauterucci didn’t read the judge’s opinion - or at least not all of it - because he explains that the presumption of innocence is one of the most fundamental principles of criminal justice.

In her article she says:

What Silverstein saying - politely - is that the witnesses lied after swearing to tell the truth - also known as perjury.

I don’t expect they’ll be charged with that, but it’s surprising she chooses to attack the judge, for failing to accept perjured testimony, rather than the witnesses who offered it.

Presumably a system where accused men are convicted automatically however unconvincing the evidence against them. I think the judge came to the only conclusion he could. You can’t send a guy to prison on the mere word of three women who were caught out in such blatant lies in their testimony. If the man is indeed guilty these women have only themselves to blame for his acquittal.

I do not know the details of the case and won’t weigh in there, but the articles you linked to don’t give much confidence that the activists swirling around this case and ones like it actually want fair trials for men accused of rape or sexual assault. Anne Kingston’s article says this: “As in all criminal allegations, false statements of sexual assault occur, though the estimated number is somewhere between two and eight per cent, according to the FBI.” She links those words to this report, which is a best highly misleading. Actually reading the report, it clearly defines false allegations in a very narrow way. An allegation is only a false allegation if the evidence clearly establishes it as false. The percent of rape allegations that fall into this category are between 2 and 10%. (Not between 2 and 8%, as Kingston says.) But not surprisingly there are many cases, where the allegation is neither proven true nor false. The actual percentage of cases that don’t result in conviction is much larger than the 2 to 10% figure.

Susan G. Cole says, “The judge could have simply believed Ghomeshi’s accusers.” No, he couldn’t have. Not if he was upholding his sworn duties. (At least not in the USA, but I presume judges swear similar things in Canada.) He is required by law to treat defendants as innocent until proven guilty, and to evaluate the testimony of all witnesses. No matter how many feminists gather outside the courtroom waving signs that demand that accusations be believed, the judge cannot uncritically believe an accusation.

And Catherine Porter: “Most of us now see what rape crisis centre workers have been saying for years: Cross-examination, particularly in these cases, often causes more damage to victims than the actual assault.” That would be a rather difficult and disturbing thing to believe.

Hold your nose and walk away, neither side is worth holding up as paragons of the legal argument, and it gets worse, from the CBC’s enabling of the defendants activities, to the expectation of the womens support groups, that he would automatically be convicted just on their say so.

I think the judge took the neutral road, and let the cards be called.

Its not an OJ level aquittal, but it does have that same smell.



As far as I can tell from the info here, it is not that he was aquitted because the rape wasn’t proven. He was aquitted because the accusations were proven false.
That is quite a difference.

You might be surprised to learn that he was not in fact charged with criminal non-receipt of emails.

Funky doings in Canada, wow.

I like this description of Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein (from a Globe and Mail story):

“Former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, whom she successfully defended against charges (of) criminal negligence and dangerous driving in 2009, recalled in his memoir that she seemed to “channel Hannibal Lecter” for her ability to “find a person’s deepest frailties and exploit them.””

Makes you wonder what’s served at her post-trial celebration dinners…

Does his memoir also relate how he begged with her not to unleash her awesome power on his behalf? “I’ll just plead guilty,” I picture him saying, “it’s the right thing to do.”

“No, you will not,” I imagine her crisp rejoinder. “I’m going to exploit those frail police officers.”

It’s impossible to know for sure what happened, but from my understanding, it’s not unusual for rape victims to act strangely after being raped (especially by someone close to them) – they might blame themselves, try to convince themselves that it was consensual, and even reach out to their rapist.

So I’m not convinced that the accusers were necessarily making false accusations because they acted oddly after the rape, but it seems impossible to know for sure.

I don’t know if it was the right verdict. It reinforces my belief that lack of trust in women is still a huge problem – if these women are telling the truth, then they didn’t report the attacks in the immediate aftermath because they were worried (with pretty good reason) that they wouldn’t be believed or have their reports taken seriously.

Why do you think this thread is “better”? I would emphatically disagree. The other cited thread contains a lengthy ongoing record of actual and real information now spanning eight pages of posts. This one seems less related to the stated subject and more just another opportunity to sound off yet again on one of your obsessions against women and feminism (Pit thread here), and so far contains some of the most uninformed commentary I’ve yet read on this case.

There are really only two over-arching facts of general interest here.

Number one, Jian Ghomeshi has a long history of abusive relationships with women. It went well beyond his obsession with consensual sexual violence to which he readily admitted and extended to abusive relationships and non-consensual violence, a fact that emerged in the aftermath of his firing from the CBC as one of the worst-kept secrets in Toronto entertainment industry circles. His firing from the CBC was upheld by subsequent reviews as well justified and he quickly dropped his frivolous attempt to sue the CBC.

Number two, the judge in the case was widely praised in legal circles for the thoroughness with which he adjudicated the case and for reaching the correct legal decision. At one point, for example, the defense objected to his admitting third-party testimony on the basis that it was the kind of testimony that “might mislead a jury” – but the defendant had chosen trial by judge, and as the judge correctly stated, “it might mislead a jury, but it won’t mislead me.” One of the downsides of choosing trial by judge is that there is less opportunity for selective presentation of evidence, but the upside is that greater legal knowledge and competence is brought to bear in reaching a verdict.

The verdict in this case was that the evidence from the witnesses was so tainted and unreliable that it badly failed the legal threshold of reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not do a poor job – they did a competent job but turned out to be saddled with witnesses that, unbeknownst to them, conspired together and withheld information. This was a case in which by all credible accounts the defense, the prosecution, and above all the judge all did their jobs and did credit to their professions. Ghoemshi is not innocent, but he was rightly judged legally not guilty for lack of evidence. There is another trial in June involving a similar but unrelated accusation. The outcome there might be quite different.

In the US, the accused is entitled to cross-examine witnesses against him. Is Porter saying that should not be allowed in Canada? That accusations of sexual assault should proceed without allowing cross-examination?

Or perhaps women who accuse men of sexual assault shouldn’t be allowed to testify - it would damage them. They could be treated as are children, in child abuse cases, and for much the same reasons.


I agree with worlpup’s assessment.

I think what we are hearing is outrage in the moment, that a man most believe guilty of something awful, will walk away. Even though they all clearly see the judge could not have decided otherwise.

I haven’t been following the trial all that closely - I’ve only read the verdict. However, from reading that, I’m not sure I’d agree that the prosecution did that great a job - though maybe, if I followed the case more closely, I’d think differently.

The reason: while it is of course true that the prosecution could not know the complainants were actively concealing information, at least some of the stuff that evidently came as a surprise to them on cross examination, they should have caught and been prepared for.

For example - one of the things one of the complainants testified “at length” about was Ghomeshi’s car, the so-called “Love Bug”. Basically, the testimony boiled down to the fact that the complainant felt that Ghomeshi was a charming, “cute” (and so harmless) person, because he drove to and on their date in a bright yellow VW Beetle. This vehicle formed a big part of her testimony in chief - she claims to have driven in it on their date, even that he assaulted her in it.

Only problem was, it couldn’t have happened that way. He bought the car months after the alleged date and assault.

Now, there is I assume no way the prosecution could have known that this witness was in fact sending Ghomeshi “flirtatious emails” a year and a half after she supposedly was “traumatized” by him, if she chose not to reveal that; but they could have - probably should have - checked out the factual basis of her evidence in chief before she testified, such as where the date took place, and what cars he owned. It strikes me as unfortunate to say the least that they were apparently totally surprised by this particular fact on cross-examination.

Indeed. Why bother with scrutiny? :smack:

I acknowledge your point, Malthus, and there’s some element of truth to it, but I think the problem is that it’s perhaps a little too easy to make these armchair judgments in hindsight and suggest that maybe the Crown should have grilled their own witnesses when in fact at the time, they had no reason to suspect that they were anything other than completely truthful. Instead, it appears that they were not so much “untruthful” as conspiring to put together a sort of composite story to make a more convincing case. The point is, at any rate, that it wasn’t so much that the prosecution dropped the ball as the fact that they were, as the CBC put it, “caught with egg on their face through no fault of their own”.

Assuming one’s own witnesses to be truthful sounds rather naive, not professional.

These chicks are giant bags of crazy, and the judge made the right decision.

Still, Ghomeshi brought this all on himself by sticking his dick in the crazy over and over again. He’s lost his high profile job, his reputation is severely damaged, and he might yet be convicted in another case.

When in doubt, keep your pants on.

Hey, I hear ya. It is hard when you are betrayed by your witnesses. But to an extent, it’s a lawyer’s job to be prepared for that, distasteful as it is.

I leaned that lesson early on - if I may be forgiven a little war story. All details have been changed so no individuals could be recognized …

Years ago, when I was still doing some general litigation as a beginning associate, I got a little wrongful dismissal case assigned to me by a partner who was mostly doing it as a favor. The facts were great. A woman was dismissed from her job and it was obvious she was fired because the company got tired of her taking mat leave to have kids. Their “cause” was bullshit - I forget what they alleged, but it was nonsense.

We had them on the ropes, and I had no doubt we were going to take them to the cleaners. The client would I knew make a wonderful witness - she was charismatic, plausible, a hard working mother of several kids, the company that fired her were talking settlement, all was going well.

Then came the day before examinations for discovery. She has cold feet about testifying. Why? Well, she knew the cause they alleged was bullshit, but she was still scared. Of what? Well, she said, would it matter to the case if they found out she’d been [doing something highly unethical]?

Well, after that, we knew we couldn’t have her testify - can’t risk counseling perjury. What if on cross they get into her [alleged highly unethical behavior]? She’s be destroyed.

So we did what we could - we settled for a little cash (a lot less than we were asking for), an acknowledgement that there was no cause alleged, and a mutual release of all claims.

Ever since then, I’ve been wary of trusting witnesses, even those who appear impeccable. Mind you, if she hadn’t 'fessed up, there was no way I’d ever have known of the problem. Also, I don’t do much in the way of litigation any more.