Jian Ghomeshi, a former CBC broadcaster who has been accused by multiple women of sexual violence, no longer faces any criminal charges.
His second sexual assault trial was slated to begin on June 6. But the complainant did not want to be put through what would likely be a difficult, demanding trial. Crown Attorney Michael Callaghan withdrew the last count of sexual assault on Wednesday morning after Ghomeshi signed a peace bond at Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse.
Ghomeshi, 48, apologized to Kathryn Borel, his former colleague and the complainant, and told the court that he will continue to see a therapist he has already been going to for 18 months. “No workplace friendship or creative environment excuses this sort of behaviour, especially when there’s a power imbalance as there was with Ms. Borel.”
Borel, who wrote a piece in The Guardian in 2014 about the harassment she says she experienced at Ghomeshi’s hands in the workplace, said that she “felt that the apology would be an acknowledgement of wrongdoing,” as the CBC reported.
A former Crown prosecutor told the CBC that a peace bond “is a court order, but there’s no finding of guilt. His lawyer will probably make clear on the record that he’s not admitting he did anything wrong, and in return, on the original charges, the Crown withdraws them.” There is usually a provision that prohibits the signer from contacting the complainant but, again, it is not an admission of guilt.
At his first trial in March, Ghomeshi was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. Ghomeshi pled not guilty to all the charges, which date back to 2002 and 2003. At the trial, Judge William Horkins questioned the credibility of Ghomeshi’s three female accusers: “The harsh reality is that once a witness has been shown to be deceptive and manipulative in giving their evidence, that witness can no longer expect the Court to consider them to be a trusted source of the truth.”
The second trial was expected to be “very different” from the first one — which was, by many accounts, a victim-blaming catastrophe — according to the National Post. While the first trial concerned alleged assaults that took place in the context of personal relationships the complainants had with Ghomeshi, the second trial would have centered on an individual claiming sexual assault in the wake of inappropriate workplace conduct which allegedly occurred at the CBC offices, where there were more likely to be witnesses.
Ghomeshi’s is among the most high-profile sexual assault cases Canada has seen, at least in modern memory: He was an immensely popular radio host, a fast-rising celebrity who interviewed major players on his cultural affairs show, Q. Since 2007, his show was reportedly one of the most successful programs at the CBC; he interviewed the likes of Jay Z, Paul McCartney, and Jon Stewart. His managers were allegedly aware as early as June 2014 of the “allegations of ‘assault’ — including punching and choking — involving a ‘series of women.’”
Last April, at the end of a six-month long investigation based on interviews with 99 people, an independent report found that Ghomeshi was a “deeply disrespectful” employee who “consistently breached” network policies, which included giving his female colleagues and subordinates unsolicited back rubs and graphic details about his sex life. As the report stated, Ghomeshi “became a star of the CBC” and therefore “We do not wish to overstate the powerlessness of those who worked with him. Based on our interviews with them, they appeared to be highly professional, creative and productive people. However, relative to Mr. Ghomeshi, they were vulnerable.”
In her Guardian piece, Borel wrote that she went to her union as early as 2010 “to end this pattern of sexual harassment” but her union and the executive producer of Q “did nothing.” Among Ghomeshi’s many transgressions, she wrote, was “emotional abuse” like “gaslighting and psychological games that undermined my intelligence, security and sense of self.”
His harassment was also physical, she said: “He grabbed my rear end and claimed he couldn’t control himself because of my skirt. Occasionally my host would stand in the doorway of his office when no one was around and slowly undo his shirt by two or three buttons while staring at me, grinning. He once grabbed my waist from behind — in front of our fellow colleague, at the office — and proceeded to repeatedly thrust his crotch into my backside.”
On the courthouse steps on Wednesday, Borel told reporters, “I think we all want this to be over, but it won’t be until he admits to everything that he’s done.”