As discussed in the last two pieces, the witnesses were confronted with missing pieces of their testimonies accompanied by evidence. All witnesses had omitted the fact that they had continued contact with Ghomeshi after the incident. The last piece explored how the testimonies were dissected; this piece will highlight what lead to the unraveling of the damaging testimonies.
Crowns role (the prosecution):
One of the witnesses stated that she believed the Crown attorney was her lawyer, a common misconception. The Crown (prosecutor) only acts on behalf of the public and government as any violation in the Criminal Code of Canada is treated as an act against the state. The Crown does not act as defense lawyers. Furthermore, any evidence obtained by the Crown must be shared with the defense.
A witness stated that she thought that the Crown would conduct an investigation on behalf of the witnesses to address any consistencies in their testimonies. Conversely, the Crown does not investigate or work to obtain evidence, which is the role of the investigators. The Crown merely uses the information presented to them by the police and investigators to seek a conviction from the court.
Why were the victims not asked more questions or prepped for the testimony?
Police officers are taught to operate on the assumption that the complainant is truthful about being raped. Thus the complainant is not investigated. However, they also recognize that victims may not disclose everything to the authorities and this is why officers ask “is there anything else we should know?”. Beyond this question, officers are taught not to push the victim too much as it may discourage victims from coming forward.
Although each victim was thoroughly analyzed and discredited on the stand, the witnesses state that they would do it again because they believe this is an important message to share with other potential victims.
Ghomeshi has another sexual assault case in June at his former place of employment, CBC.
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Points of Discussion:
- How do you feel about the verdict?
- How would you change the system?
- What would be the outcome in your country? How are witnesses assessed where you live?