The Ghomeshi Verdict: Part 1

BarristerIn the aftermath of ex-CBC celebrity Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal on sexual assault charges, you could feel sympathy for the misunderstood victims and their placard-waving supporters. Yes, you could…but you shouldn’t.

The ever-changing testimony of the three women who alleged that Mr. Ghomeshi assaulted them presented a field day for any lawyer with a rudimentary ability to cross-examine. For Mr. Ghomeshi’s highly skilled advocate, Marie Henein, it was “easy pickings” and here’s why.

The witness referred to as L.R. met Mr. Ghomeshi at the CBC Christmas party in 2002 where she was hired as a waitress. After a brief flirtation, he invited her to come to the CBC studio to see him tape his show. She attended several times alone and their sexual interaction was limited to kissing. One time as they sat in his car, he suddenly “pulled her hair”, which puzzled her, but did not impact their continuing relationship.  On the last occasion she came to the studio with a girlfriend. The three of them went out for drinks after the show, and later Mr. Ghomeshi suggested they go to his home. L.R. agreed, while her girlfriend declined.

L.R. and Mr. Ghomeshi were in the living room when suddenly “out of the blue” he came up behind her, grabbed her hair and pulled it.

He then punched her in the head several times and pulled her to her knees. The force of the blow was significant. She said it felt like walking into a pole or hitting her head on the pavement. L.R. thought she might pass out. She testified that as quickly as the violence started, Mr. Ghomeshi’s apparent rage subsided and he told her he would call her a taxi to take her home. L.R. admitted that she felt that he threw her out “like trash.”

Unfortunately for L.R., her evidence at trial contradicted what she told the police, recorded in a written witness statement, and did not jive with her media interviews before the trial. The discrepancies included:

L.R. said that Mr. Ghomeshi’s cute, bright yellow Volkswagen “bug” gave her a sense of comfort that he was a kind, nice guy. The only problem was that he did not purchase the vehicle until seven months after their “relationship” ended. And yet she was “so sure”.

The day after L.R.’s police interview, she called the investigating officer to let them know that she had now remembered that the assault in the car was not just hair pulling.  She said he also slammed her head against the car window. At trial she reversed herself, and denied she acted out the head-slamming scene for the police. A police video played in court proved otherwise.

In her initial police interview she did not tell the police that before the alleged assault at Mr. Ghomeshi’s home, they were kissing, a fact she revealed at trial. The import of this additional evidence served to turn an assault into a more serious sexual assault.

L.R. was adamant that after the second incident she ceased all contact with Mr. Ghomeshi. But it simply wasn’t true. She sent him multiple emails and a photograph of herself wearing a red string bikini. She never mentioned any of this to the police or the prosecution and was ambushed at trial with her glaring omissions.

Not surprisingly, L.R.’s evidence was rejected by the trial judge, William B. Horkins, who wrote in his Reasons:

“L.R. has been exposed as a witness willing to withhold relevant information from the police, from the Crown and from the Court. It is clear that she deliberately breached her oath to tell the truth. Her value as a reliable witness is diminished accordingly.”

However, L.R.’s difficulty with telling the truth, the whole truth, is eclipsed by the evidence of the two other women, whose evidence will be the subject of Parts 2 and 3 of The Ghomseshi Verdict.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

6 thoughts on “The Ghomeshi Verdict: Part 1

  1. Finally……a published opinion that looks at the facts!
    I’m a female and he was tried and convicted in the media and through women’s groups long before the trial started.
    This case reiterates the fact that women can be deceptive and manipulative if they feel wronged.
    Every actual “victim” will recount the details over and over again exactly the same way. The story doesn’t deviate because the truth is easier to remember.

  2. J.K – Actually every “actual” victim won’t recount the details over and over the same way as anyone who has been one of a number of witnesses to any sudden event can attest. However, that is not the issue in this case.

    L.R. was interviewed after the verdict and despite the interviewer nicely offering her a chance to explain why she chose not to disclose the kissing scenario L.R. reiterated her view that it was not disclosed as it was not relevant to what the alleged assailant did to her.

    I read the reasons for judgment and if there’s a common thread between the three complainants it’s their personal decisions to withhold information that in their personal view wasn’t relevant to what happened to them. The Judge, however, takes a different view and no matter how much he might have wanted to convict on the evidence victims presented could not find a path to conviction as witnesses chose to deceive, withhold and not understand their oath – to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    There is a potential fix in these cases and that would be for victims to be given legal instruction separate from the Crown prosecution that focuses not on the facts of the case but on the process that takes place in court as well as what they should and shouldn’t do in discussing this case or their evidence with others.

    1. Greg You are generous in your analysis that their mistake was in withholding “irrelevant” evidence. Unfortunately, it was much more than that. Both L.R. and Lucy DeCoutere “lied” when they said they cut off contact with the accused after the sexual assaults. See my follow-up Part 2 post this afternoon. Cheers and thanks for commenting! Georgialee

      1. A person can tell about a time when they cut off contact and then tell about the contact resuming only for the other side to then only use the statement of the initial cutting off of contact against them as a statement of cutting off contact permanently. I don’t see the word (cut-off contact) “permanently” having come from the victims mouths.

      2. If you read the judge’s Reasons you will see the witnesses hid the fact they stayed in touch with Mr. Ghomeshi. All they needed to do was tell the truth, but they lied and that’s why Ghomeshi walked away from serious charges. Once a witness is found to be a liar, the court will have trouble believing anything they say, particularly in a criminal trial. We can only hope that the victim/witness in the trial he faces in June 2016 will be completely honest and forthcoming.

    2. It is true that if one prevaricates or lies it is difficult to keep one’s story “straight”. That’s why I always tell my clients to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. As a lawyer I can “work” with the truth, but lies are impossible to deal with.

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