Although many individuals believed that former, CBC radio celebrity Jian Ghomeshi would be found guilty for sexual assault, he was acquitted. This piece is a follow up on my last piece.
The victims had withheld information for varying reasons including; they felt the information was irrelevant, they believed they would be prepped before testifying and could address any inconsistencies before the trial and because they simply didn’t remember details.
Proving a case beyond reasonable doubt is a high standard to achieve but with good reason as the person will be serving time in jail. In sexual assault cases, reasonable doubt is established based on the creditability of the victims as the offender is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. As mentioned in the last article, each witness was deemed uncreditable.
Another damaging factor in the case was the on-going contact between victims. Despite clear instructions from the judge advising the witnesses to not contact each other, the witnesses did exactly that. There were approximately 5000 messages exchanged between the witnesses discussing the case and their stories.
Why would the judge discourage interaction?
When parties choose to discuss the case, it can undermine the authenticity of facts because parties can be influenced by each other. In this instance, the Crown was relying on a pattern of similar incidents between the women, their stories sounded alike. However, the Crown argued and proved that two of the witnesses had discussed the case and one of them had made amendments to her original testimony which then sounded more like the other witness’ statement. Thus the judge found the women were working together to target Ghomeshi as they shared comments suggesting collaboration to take down Ghomeshi. The witnesses argued that they wanted Ghomeshi to feel ashamed and humiliated but had no intention of colluding.
Some are finding comfort in knowing that Ghomeshi’s career has experienced a setback from these allegations while others feel not enough was done. Although this case is closed, Ghomeshi is facing another trial in June regarding a sexual assault case that took place at his place of employment, CBC.
News reporters stated that the judge’s decision was just short of saying that the women were lying without stating they were lying. The witnesses in turn argue that the judge did not deny that the attacks did not occur but rather that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an attack.
Below is a video available on the CBC website depicting the trial.
What are your thoughts after watching the trial and reading this article?
Points of Discussion:
1. Are complainants permitted to discuss the case with each other in your country?
2. Do you think collusion was a reasonable conclusion for the judge to make?
3. What are your thoughts on the case?