Given the testimony of the three witnesses against him, we agree with Ontario Court Justice William Horkins’ verdict Thursday acquitting ex-CBC star Jian Ghomeshi of four counts of sexual assault and one of choking to overcome resistance.
There were too many inconsistencies and, as Horkins noted, “carelessness with the truth” in their accounts of the assaults to be credible.
The standard of proof in a criminal trial — beyond a reasonable doubt — is high for good reason, because an accused typically faces imprisonment upon conviction.
For anyone who is sexually assaulted, the lesson here is not that they should remain silent, but the opposite.
They should seek help immediately, go to a hospital if injured, lodge a complaint with the police and tell the police everything that happened, omitting nothing, no matter how embarrassing.
Police and crown attorneys have a duty to treat anyone alleging a sexual assault with seriousness, compassion and respect.
But they also have an obligation to test the credibility of what they are being told, to emphasize the importance of honesty, full disclosure and not sharing their testimony with anyone else, and to prepare witnesses properly for giving testimony at trial.
Our adversarial court system requires a great deal of the victims of any violent crime, particularly sexual assault, one of the reasons it offers them anonymity.
But absent independent witnesses, which rarely occur in these cases, there is no other way to bring the perpetrators of sexual assault to justice other than in trials where the credibility of the complainants versus the accused is key.
Ghomeshi faces another trial on a charge of sexual assault in June and it will be up to the court to determine his guilt or innocence.
Nothing that transpired Thursday changes our view that the CBC was right to dismiss Ghomeshi as the host of Q.
Assuming the facts in it are accurate, we agree with the April, 2015 report of lawyers Janice Rubin and Parisa Nikfarjam, asked by the CBC to review Ghomeshi’s workplace conduct, that it was “disrespectful, including behaviour ... ‘considered to create an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive work environment.’”
We also agree that CBC management, “knew or ought to have known” about it and by failing to act, “condoned this behaviour”.
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