News

The Ghomeshi trial: Day 5

The court hears that the third complainant exchanged thousands of messages with Lucy DeCoutere and one sexual act with Jian Ghomeshi.

Summary: The Crown and Marie Henein, Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer, discussed new evidence, behind closed doors, pertaining to the third complainant’s sexual history; the judge decided it was relevant to the case. The third witness was examined by both the Crown and defence.

The big moments: Witness three — whose identity is protected by a publication ban — told the Crown that Jian Ghomeshi smothered her and bit her without her consent while they were making out on a Toronto park bench in July 2003. On another night, they went to a bar together downtown. There she recalled running into a writer who asked how long she and Ghomeshi had been seeing each other; she said Ghomeshi replied, “Oh, no, we’re re just f—ing.” Days later, at a party in a west-end neighbourhood, they got into a fight after he told her he felt her close friend was manipulative and controlling; she told him never to call her again.

The court also heard that this witness became friends with another complainant, Lucy DeCoutere, around the time when the Ghomeshi allegations first emerged in the fall of 2014. They exchanged roughly 5,000 messages, many of them about the criminal process, though the witness agreed on cross-examination that there were some details about the assault.

But a significant new piece of evidence occurred last Friday morning, when the witness went to a local police station and gave an additional statement: that she did have sexual contact, though not sex, with Ghomeshi after the night at the bar. “The thing you wanted to tell [detectives] is that when you went to that bar on King Street, Mr. Ghomeshi went home with you,” Henein said. “You messed around and you gave him a hand job. It happened at your place. It happened after the assault. It happened the very same night you went to that King Street bar. That is the detail you…didn’t tell the police.” The complainant said she did mislead the police, but that she initially thought they were only interested in non-consensual activity related to the assault. “This is my first kick at the can,” she told Henein. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t follow the guidelines…I don’t know how to navigate [this].”

In the courtroom: The witness’ family sat in the front row of the courtroom as she testified. The witness did not look at Henein for much of her testimony.

Ghomeshi: He walked into the courtroom in a navy suit and dark patterned tie on Monday morning, tripping on a cord as he went to say his daily hello to his mother and sister. He did not say goodbye to them today, as he usually does.

The soundbite: “Obviously it was a big mistake… I was embarrassed.” — the witness on why she waited until Friday to tell police of her sexual contact with Ghomeshi.

Up next: The Crown would like to call a witness from Halifax, but a storm hitting the east coast will delay travel. Court returns at 10 am to discuss the relevance of this witness.

Related:
How are witnesses prepped in sexual assault trials?
Lucy DeCoutere’s message for assault survivors
The Ghomeshi trial: Day 4