Jian Ghomeshi, Zoe Kazan, And Why We Need To Believe Survivors

by Meghan Sara

Jian Ghomeshi, former CBC television host, Moxy Fruvous singer and accused rapist, was acquitted yesterday by a Canadian court of four counts of sexual assault and one account of overcoming resistance to sexual assault by choking involving three different complainants.

The details of the case were captured in harrowing detail by Justice William B. Horkins of the Ontario Court of Justice. He made sure to note that during the time of the events he stood trial for, Ghomeshi was the host of a popular CBC television show called “PLAY,” leading to an even more successful CBC radio interview show called “Q.” In 2014, at the zenith of his radio popularity, the three complainants in this case came forward. In light of these allegations, Ghomeshi was suddenly and abruptly fired from his radio show that same year.

Jian Ghomeshi Q

L.R., one of the two complainants who were shielded from identification, testified that she met Ghomeshi while working as a server at the CBC Christmas party in 2002. He invited her to a subsequent taping of his show “PLAY” and they had drinks after the taping, he a Heineken, and she a ginger ale. On this occasion, she recalled they kissed and he “grabbed hold of her long hair and yanked it,” as she recalled, quite painfully, in a dark foreshadowing of even more disturbing events to come. After she attended a second taping of his show in early January 2003, she went back to his house:

“While at Mr. Ghomeshi’s home the music was playing. They had a drink, and they sat on the couch and talked. At one point L.R. was standing up near the couch, looking at various things in the room and thinking what a charming person he was. Then, 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.”

The judge wrote that he had trouble believing this victim because of inconsistencies in her memory of the events from 2002. In addition, this woman sent an email to Ghomeshi which the judge determined to be flirtatious in nature, attaching a photo of herself on the beach in a red string bikini. The judge wrote:

“The expectation of how a victim of abuse will, or should, be expected to behave must not be assessed on the basis of stereotypical models. Having said that, I have no hesitation in saying that the behaviour of this complainant is, at the very least, odd. The factual inconsistencies in her evidence cause me to approach her evidence with great skepticism.”

NPR noted that Ghomeshi did not testify in the case, and that he previously asserted that he was fired from the CBC not in light of the numerous allegations against him, but as a “moral judgement against his taste for consensual bondage and rough sex.” One of his accusers, Lucy DeCoutere, recalls seeing Ghomeshi at trial when she testified against him. DeCoutere told the Ruth Spencer at The Guardian that she saw him

“Sitting still with his lips pursed at the defense table. There he was, in his neat little suit, surrounded by the million-dollar legal team he’d hired to protect himself from the very women he once found so easy to dominate – to slap, choke and punch.”

CKNW Ghomeshi protesters tweet

There is much attention surrounding the case because Ghomeshi was once a high-profile, widely respected and well-liked public figure in Canada — much like Bill Cosby — whose fall from grace was sharply punctuated by allegations from more than 20 women of being “slapped, punched, bitten, choked, or smothered by the radio host,” as The Guardian reports.

His trial was heavily protested by crowds shouting “We Believe Survivors” and “Ghomeshi guilty.” Many expressed their dismay at the verdict on Twitter, including Zoe Kazan, who shared her own personal experience being interviewed by Ghomeshi:

Zoe Kazan Ghomeshi twitter

Ghomeshi returns to court in June to face more charges of sexual assault.


photos via Wikimedia Commons and Twitter


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