What I wish I’d known before testifying in the Ghomeshi trial

Linda Christina Redgrave opens up about being afraid, that bikini photo and how she plans to make coming forward better for other women.

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April 18, 2016: The publication ban on the name of Linda Christina Redgrave, known as Witness 1 during the trial, has been lifted. The piece has been updated to reflect the change. 

In November of 2014, Linda Christina Redgrave, a Toronto mother of two walked into a police station to tell officers that Jian Ghomeshi had assaulted her. She did so after learning two things: 1) She wasn’t the only woman the former CBC radio host allegedly hurt, and 2) There was no statute of limitations on her claim that he had yanked her hair without warning in December 2002 and again in January 2003 before delivering two blows to the side of her head. She sat down with detectives and nervously blurted out her story.

“I just went on and on,” says Redgrave, one of three complainants in the criminal trial against Ghomeshi. “When I later saw the excerpts of that interview in court, I was horrified,” she says now. “I didn’t recognize myself.”

That police interview was the beginning of a massive learning curve about testifying in a high-profile sexual assault trial, one that concluded today with Ghomeshi being acquitted of all charges. Redgrave didn’t know her rambling police interview would be her official statement and later used in court. She didn’t know her subsequent exchanges with detectives about whether or not she was wearing hair extensions during the first assault would be used by Ghomeshi’s defence attorney, Marie Henein, to make her look less credible. She didn’t know her fuzzy recollection of details, such as the colour and make of Ghomeshi’s “Disney car,” would be so incisively scrutinized. And she didn’t know a photo she’d emailed to Ghomeshi of herself in a red string bikini would leave her testimony in tatters.

Still, Redgrave insists speaking out “was the right thing to do.” Now, with the launch of the website comingforward.ca, she wants to help other women navigate the system if they decide to report a sexual assault. Chatelaine asked Redgrave what she wishes she had known before embarking on one of the toughest experiences of her life.


Exclusive: Lucy DeCoutere on the Ghomeshi disaster


1. I wish I’d sought legal guidance before reporting the assaults.
Were I ever to make another statement in the future, I wouldn’t walk into the police station and just do it. I would consult a lawyer, because this is going to be the statement relied upon in trial. We feel the police are on our side to help us, but their job is to focus on the charges against the accused. They should have informed me that every word I said could be disclosed to the defence should there be a charge. When I went to the police, I felt like I was venting; there wasn’t much direction. The police won’t tell you to take your time, be descriptive, use words and not gestures. It would have been helpful if they had stressed that I check through emails to see if I had any communications with Jian.* Jian was read his rights and told anything he says could be used against him in a court of law. It turns out anything a witness says can be used against them, too.

2. I wish I’d known how nerve-wracking the whole process would be.
I was overcome with fear at the thought of coming forward, but I couldn’t ignore this with a clear conscience. When I walked into the courtroom, I kept reminding myself “I’m just here to tell a story.” But I felt like a sacrificial lamb. Everyone was staring at me. I brought a little crystal stone to squeeze when things got rough. I had an unquenchable thirst throughout the testimony — it was actually scary how thirsty I was. The second day, before my cross examination continued, I was losing energy. I didn’t know if I could do it. I wanted to just run out and say, “I’m sorry, you suck, you hurt me.” It was like being on a game show in front of the whole country, and if you answered one question wrong you’d get a poison arrow in the head.

3. I wish I’d known that my memory, above all, would be on trial.
People think you just go on the stand and tell the truth. It’s not like that. Marie Henein never once challenged my allegations. She did, however, challenge my memory with the collateral details, despite my repeating that my memories became clearer as I sat with them. I wish I’d known how important that was; I would have prepared more to defend my memory. If one were to retell a movie they saw only once 13 years ago, chances are they would remember and re-tell the main events before recalling the smaller details. I did see a yellow car, but that was brushed over because the model was wrong. I had two out of three facts correct.

4. I wish I’d known how harshly I’d be treated on the stand.
Before heading into cross-examination, the victim witness support worker told me it was going to get rough. That wasn’t helpful. I can’t say Henein scared me — she annoyed me to no end. She yelled and sneered and talked down to me. I was thinking, “Why is this allowed? Why am I sitting here while everyone looks on as she’s mocking me?” So many times I wanted to laugh because I was thinking, “Is this real? It’s 2016 and this is what they do?” I felt it was abusive. I was told that she wouldn’t be, and that the judge would stop her if she ever got that way. But it felt like she was attacking the hell out of me.** It’s not fair that someone gets assaulted, and has to go to court and get assaulted again. Why can’t it be adults in a room, fact-finding and looking for truth?

5. I wish I’d known how my behaviour after the assault would be scrutinized.
I knew there was a photo, but I wasn’t sure I’d sent it. I didn’t even remember what I wrote, but I remembered why I was doing it. I wanted to speak to him. I wanted to know why he did what he did. I wasn’t embarrassed about the picture. There was nothing salacious about it. I chose it. But I wasn’t happy about the big drum-roll build-up to its presentation and the insinuation that I had been “found out.” I think it’s normal for people who have a history of abuse as I do to keep it going. In my experience dating back to childhood, abuse has been cloaked in kindness. This was true for my interactions with Jian, the way he switched into this dark rage and then back to a really nice guy. People can judge me based on what they think I should or shouldn’t have done but there is no one way of reacting to abuse.

6. I wish there was a place I could’ve turned to for all the information.
Just before the trial, I felt so alone. It’s not like you can call your mother and talk about it. I’ve created a website, comingforward.ca, where I hope survivors of sexual assault can find some guidance before going to police and taking the stand. It will cover what to consider when you’re preparing to testify or report, what it’s like before a trial and what it’s like to go through a trial. Right now, there’s nowhere to look all of that up, and no one to talk to. It’s not very clear for a complainant what your role is, what the rules are, what your rights are and who you can and can’t talk to and in what time frame. I wish I’d known all of that from the minute I walked into the police station. But I still think — as horrible as the system is — more people have to come forward. If everyone stays quiet, it’s never going to change.

As told to Sarah Boesveld.

In an email, the Toronto Police Service said detectives in the Jian Ghomeshi trial told complainants their statements were important, given under oath and that their obligation to be a witness at any future trial related to this complaint was outlined. At the end of the interview, witnesses were given the opportunity to change anything. Each complainant was also asked about any further contact at all they had with Mr. Ghomeshi. Detectives told complainants all evidence was crucial to the case and that anything disclosed to the police and/or the Crown would also be disclosed to defence.

** Ms. Henein did not directly respond to a request for comment, but a partner in her firm, Scott Hutchison, said the complainant’s characterizations of her courtroom behaviour “are false. It would be wrong for you to repeat them.”

Related:
Exclusive: Lucy DeCoutere on the Ghomeshi
disaster
The bleak lessons of the Ghomeshi trial
In their own words: Protestors on the Ghomeshi verdict
Ghomeshi trial: Everything that’s wrong with sexual assault law
Not guilty: Jian Ghomeshi acquitted of all charges

41 comments on “What I wish I’d known before testifying in the Ghomeshi trial

  1. The system for dealing with sexual assault in Canada is grievously broken. It repeatedly fails those who suffer abuse. It well serves the predators in our midst. If Canada really is back as PM Trudeau says it is – the time is now for politicians to fix things so more victims and survivors are not harmed by our failed approach to dealing with the prey and the predators.

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    • The predators in this instance seem to be the three lying scorned women.
      Their jenga tower didn’t fall in quite the direction that they expected! ” Theatre at it’s best ” eh Lucy, bring on the popcorn!

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  2. Thanks to all the women who’ve come forward and reported the abuses of Jian Ghomeshi. Your brave actions can and should lead to reform of the system.

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    • are we encouraging perjury and discrediting evidence? anyone who is charged with rape will be convicted from now on I guess

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    • These women colluded and committed perjury. They have broken laws. There may be no such thing as the “perfect victim,” but I don’t think you should use this trial as an example of the “forever and always” truthfulness of women. Women lie/exaggerate just as much as men. I believe in the justice system. And I believe in trials. What I don’t believe in is taking a stranger for their word. What I don’t believe in is social media mob-mentality.

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  3. Well said and thanks for posting!

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  4. The complainant’s characterization of Marie Henein is at odds with many others’ observations, apparently including — very significantly — those of Dalhousie law professor Elaine Craig, whose op-ed about “whacking” in sex assualt trials was published at the start of the trial. After this complainant’s testimony, Ms. Craig told CBC News that Ms. Henein’s cross-examination was thorough but respectful and did not display the yelling, mocking and general derision that defines “whacking.” I agree with Ms. Henein’s firm that I think it is wrong of you to repeat the complainant’s false characterization, and also it is unfair of the complainant to malign the police by suggesting they didn’t warn her that her statements would be used in court. Speaking as a women, I find that these near-defamatory statements are divisive and counter-productive to helping women in future cases.

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    • She’s speaking from her perspective of being there. You don’t get to decide how she’s supposed to perceive the situation. Speaking as a woman, I don’t find the characterization of Heinen by Witness 1 to be at all at odds with the live-tweeting of the cross-examination I followed during the trial.

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  5. After watching what you witnesses went through during the trial I thought one of the things victims really need is some guidance in how to report their abuse in a legally defensible way. How great that you wrote this article and have launched your website. You could have easily taken the abuse dished out to you during the trial and just tried to disappear for a while. I’m glad you had the courage to take action instead.

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    • I wish she had the courage to tell the truth, rather than lie and omit facts as was uncovered in the trial. Or would have saying what actually happened fatally compromised her efforts to become the David Beckham of sexual assault advocacy?

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  6. Most media covering the Ghomeshi trial did not refer to the decades-old statistic that only 6 per cent of sexual assaults ever get reported and only 10 per cent of those ever lead to a conviction.
    Hitching all your hopes for changes in the law or the justice system to one high-profile case reminds me of the Einstein definition of insanity: “doing something over and over again and expecting different results”. Even a conviction in this case will not change the incidence of low reporting and high acquittal.
    New activist options that may lead to cultural and systemic solutions must be proposed.

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  7. I commend Witness 1 for both her testimony and her continued work on this with her website, etc. I think Chatelaine did a good job of balancing the points of view by including the asterisks. We can’t dismiss Witness 1’s perception of what she was going through: even if another lawyer at Ms Heinen’s firm or another lawyer at a law school thinks that Ms Heinen isn’t a particularly aggressive cross-examiner, that doesn’t negate what Witness 1 was going through as she felt SHE was suddenly, publicly, on trial. I believed Lucy, and I believe Witness 1.

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  8. Our stories are real. What we think and feel matters. We all deserve to be heard and respected. I am sorry witness #1 was assaulted by not only Jian but also Marie henein.

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    • You can’t assault someone with words. Are you an adult or a child? — Heinen didn’t assault the Crown’s witnesses; she performed a cross-examination. She did her job, and she did it well–exposing the fact that they were perjurers and colluders.

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    • I’m pretty sure lying Lucy & her two co- horts stories aren’t real. It’s very hard to respect liars, perjurers, & colluders!!

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  9. Being kinky is not a criminal offence. Physical assault IS a criminal offence. I think if these witnesses had not had ongoing discoverable electronic correspondence with and amongst each other, had been more forthcoming about their interactions post-event with Ghomeshi and had sought legal advice as to how to behave as a witness, the outcome could have been different at least with regard to the choking charge. As it stands, the judge had no option but to find him not guilty as the witnesses ‘ testimony could no longer be relied upon as honest and forthcoming. Sadly these women turned out to be their own worst enemies. As for the comingforward.ca website, it’s a great idea and it would be helpful to have a large section with information pertaining to how to report an assault (Yes, contact a lawyer first), and how to behave between the time an assault is committed, reported and when it finally comes to trial so other women don’t make the same mistake(s).

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  10. when a court of law gives it decision nobody can criticise or observe on it or explain it because all decisions of the courts are complete in all respects and self explanatory and doing so is the contempt of court which can be subject to punishment and available means for relief being available under the law can be explored via legal means…So scandalizing or creating any doubt in public on a court decision can be dangerous for the one doing so…

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    • Good point. Yet another example of how these witnesses were their own worst enemy in this trial. They committed perjury, colluded with each other, and now Witness 1 is risking being found in contempt of court. Not to mention the possibility of a defamation suit! God, I hope he sues. I don’t know how else he will be able to recover his public image and career.

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  11. Look to the future as a leopard cannot change its spots

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    • That appears to be true for lying lucy as we have seen the past few days. A very sick & disturbed woman!!

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  12. By the end of this trial experts were generally saying that it was more about the integrity of the system than the case itself. That is sad but true. This witness is correct that she should have had legal advice going it but in the end the testimony of all three of the complainants was simply a disgrace and did not serve the cause of violence against women at all. We need to face the truth and that is they broke some very common sense rules of law. The judge delivered the correct sentence with what he was given by the Crown and complainants who blindsided the Crown. The system may be broken but that cannot be judged on the basis of this case because it truly was lost by the complainants. Thee are many who would be angry at me for saying this but it is the truth.

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    • An excellent summarization. Thank you! I feel the same way. These women completely blindsided their own lawyers and shot themselves in the foot by colluding with each other. One of their e-mails to each other said “it’s time to sink the prick.” It would’ve been a travesty of justice, had the case gone any other way, in light of the revelations laid out during the trial.

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  13. These woman’s collusion to take down a famous person a decade after they dated have significantly hurt woman’s position as these cheaters and liars shouldn’t stop woman who are truly raped or assaulted from coming forward. The systems did work, except these woman should have been found in contempt of court for lying. They waited a decade to attack this guy versus if it was a true crime, they would have gone to the police before media. The system does work, so if you are raped go to a hospital or police IMMEDIATELY… If you date him the next day or week, then how can it be viewed as rape or assault as you went back for more and the chards are now out of spite which isn’t fair and opens you to being sued.

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    • I feel the same way. These women were independent intelligent women who could have left at any time. They weren’t relying on Ghomeshi for money or a home; they didn’t share custody of children with him. Yet they continued to see him after the alleged violent incidents. They consented to continue seeing him and maintain sexual relations and friendships with him afterwards. In my mind, that means a person consents to the way they are being treated. Ghomeshi wasnt hypnotizing these women; they were with him of their own volition. I treat women like adults, that don’t require special treatment from police, the legal system, or society; women are adults and I expect them to take *personal responsibility* for their choices. If someone commits a crime: report it. But don’t wait 15 years until your ex-boyfriend is rich and famous and you have a posse to collude with and plan a coordinated attack (i.e. collusion). They basically transformed a few incidents of bad sex into a huge criminal case. Thank god for the acquittal. There is sanity in this world.

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  14. Scott Hutchison, your vague threat is disgusting. “It would be wrong for you to repeat” the witness’s perceptions of how she felt being cross-examined? Sorry buddy, you don’t get to choose how people feel, even if it forces you to confront yourself with the impact that cross-examinations have on actual human beings.

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  15. Right on. Heinen was extremely professional throughout the trial and the police followed protocol. No one believes that the witness forgot about a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi after the alleged abuse and no one believes she sent a provocative picture for the ridiculous reason she came up with. The verdict was fair and just. It doesn’t mean The abuse didn’t happen. It means that because of the lies and omissions of the witnesses there was REASONABLE doubt. Victims are not exempt from telling the whole truth, not just the truth they think will help their cause.

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  16. Witness 1 is not helping herself here. Of course what you tell the police is your official statement. Of course that’s what the defence will look at and question you on at trial. What do you think would happen? Don’t complain about the police not being there to help you. They are doing their JOB which is to investigate as an impartial 3rd party. No you don’t need a lawyer with you to make a statement to the police….. Just tell the truth. How can you say you didn’t realize your memory would be on trial.when you are making claims about events that happened a decade ago where there is no other physical evidence? Playing dumb and naive will get her no sympathy from me.

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  17. My heart aches for these woman. I’ve been there myself and was also given no guidance. It was while writing my victim impact statement that I was advised without counsel that a plea was taken and agreed to. I had no say. While at victim services I finished writing my statement, they edited what I was not allowed to say due to the agreement made between the crown and his defense attorney. Scared and shaking I made my victim statement, was cross examined like I was on trial while he sat in silence. His layer doing everything in his power to scare my family and I and me not being able to afford an attorney and like these woman thinking that the crown was there for me. He got off easy…….. No punishment for his crime but probation. I was left with two children to provide for after loosing my livelihood, home and was made to feel like a criminal myself after being questioned after my statement. I his nothing yet still had the same outcome. To make all matters worse had to sit in a room with the crown attorney while waiting for the judge to have him tell me, “you were a great on the stand, we could have went to trial.” In other words they could have actually made him pay for his crime yet never even looked into the details. They admitted they were afraid of his well paid attorney and did not think my honesty was enough. Assumed I was hiding something. It’s 13 years later and “he” has passed on and I’m still supposed to let it go. Yet I’ve been single since and have trouble trusting anyone……. Before he passed a actually let him back into our lives. In a restricted manner, yet I did. Sometimes you just do things because you do not want to be the victim. You try to work it out in your head to make it all seem normal because you do not want to be suffering anymore. I truly believe these woman were not lying, they were just trying to make the world know to them normal again. The system does not work. I sit here decades later still broken…. trusting no one. When you are let down by those whom you are raised to believe are there to protect you and are questioned for your actions of defending yourself you cannot help but feel the desire for vengeance or even block out what you may have done to rationalize or normalize what has been done to your. To these woman I say ,”I BELIEVE YOU!” Many victims will…. Thank you for coming forward.

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  18. As noted in the postscript:

    Ms. Henein did not directly respond to a request for comment, but a partner in her firm, Scott Hutchison, said the complainant’s characterizations of her courtroom behaviour “are false. It would be wrong for you to repeat them.”

    Wow. Just wow. Marie Henein’s law partner says the opinions of the witness are false. As in wrong, incorrect. How arrogantly incorrect of him: her opinions are just that, hers. Based on her experience. What an underhanded way to continue to discredit the witness.

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    • She claimed that Henein abused her and yelled at her. That isn’t a subjective thing to claim; and nobody else that was there agrees that this is what happened. So, no. Just because this witness *felt* like she was being yelled at doesn’t make it true. Henein was doing her job, defending her client. And she actually went above and beyond what was necessary by letting the Crown’s witnesses consult with their lawyers during cross-examination–something highly unusual and generous to the Crown.

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    • They should be discredited since all three of them are guilty of lying, perjury, & collusion! What trial did you follow?

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  19. Clearly a bunch of baloney. Henein’s defense was absolutely not abusive. The defense isn’t a “fun fact-finding mission”; it’s a mission to defend the innocence of the client. And she successfully proved that there was not only collusion, but also reasonable doubt in the allegations brought against Ghomeshi. On top of all of this, regarding her testimony to police–don’t you have some sort of equivalent in Canada to the Miranda Rights? I mean–in the USA at least I’m pretty sure most able-minded people understand that “what you say can and may be used against you in the court of law.” Police interviews are not therapy/venting sessions; they are interviews to collect evidence for further use in trial/criminal investigations. You people don’t understand how the law works… Have some respect for a system where a person has to be proven guilty before being deemed a criminal, instead of the other way around. You never know when the tables will turn and you are relying on the assumption of innocence.

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  20. No shaming or blaming intended, but I am continuously disappointed in the actions of women. We really have to stop giving these abusive men such power and importance. Were some of us born without a creep-o-meter? In a world where women valued their self esteem, men like Ghomeshi should be shunned and left alone to live a dateless, celibate life.
    Why in gawd’s name would Lucy D. kiss her attacker or have anything more to do with him weeks after he assaulted her? And why would another victim send a picture of her posing in a red bikini after her attack? This has been the eye opener for me in this whole trial,

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    • Lucy D ” a sick little girl’ who needs help!

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  21. L.R. – do you wish you knew that lying is no no under the oath?

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    • apparently none of them know what telling the truth means!

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  22. What I think the Ghomeshi trial has done for us is to show how complainants can be properly prepared. Women are shamed about sexuality from infancy. The shame makes us not want to talk about our sexual behaviour and stupid things we do in confused pursuit of a sex life. Now we know that justice demands the whole truth, and we have to be brave, face our shame, and reveal everything. The complainants in this trial are brave women to take on all the shaming that goes on in the courtroom. Having served on a jury, I learned about ‘reasonable doubt’, and knew the judge could not Ghomeshi guilty.

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  23. The justice system only cares about women. When a man is a victim, no one cares.

    The Supreme Court has told the police to conduct a proper investigation. The only investigation is a woman is a victim, end of story. How is that a proper investigation?

    The Prosecutor is supposed to use “discretion” when forwarding a case for trial. The only discretion is saying he’s guilty and that’s that.

    Men are abused by the in-justice system, then some politicians keep tweeting “I believe victims”. Yes, I believe Ghomeshi is a victim, but these politicians don’t speak out about how these women broke the law, and are not put in jail, where they belong.

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  24. The only thing that should be on that website should, “tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth at all times.”

    How can you think the police is there for you to vent to, that sounds a bit idiotic.

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  25. I totally believe you and the other women and commend you for coming forward AND starting a website to help others who have the misfortune of dating a spineless, abusive man.

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  26. The system is workig as it should. If you go to court and lie or tell misleading information you will not get a conviction and neither should you. What in the name of god did you expect? Did you think you would just walk in there, tell parts of a story that supported your claim and ignore or lie about what was not supporting your accusation? The oath you took was that you would “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. You got the verdict you deserved. The unfortunate part of this is that had you just testified properly and just told the truth you may well have gotten a guilty verdict. That is the lesson to be learned from this trial.

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