Ghome­shi trial be­gins Mon­day

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

He was a broad­cast­ing star with a wide and loyal fol­low­ing be­fore he be­came en­gulfed in a scan­dal that sparked a na­tion­wide con­ver­sa­tion on sex­ual as­sault and the is­sues with re­port­ing it.

Now, more than a year since the al­le­ga­tions against Jian Ghome­shi sent shock waves across the coun­try, his highly an­tic­i­pated trial is set to be­gin in Toronto on Mon­day.

Ghome­shi — the for­mer host of CBC ra­dio’s pop­u­lar cul­ture show “Q” — has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sex­ual as­sault and one count of overcoming re­sis­tance by chok­ing.

The judge-alone trial, which is ex­pected to last sev­eral weeks, in­volves three com­plainants and will be closely watched by many across the coun­try.

“Ra­dio is a very in­ti­mate medium and he was go­ing into peo­ple’s liv­ing rooms five days a week,” said Mar­sha Bar­ber, a jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor at Toronto’s Ry­er­son Univer­sity.

“He was very in­flu­en­tial and he had a huge lis­ten­er­ship. Any­body who lis­tened to him reg­u­larly is go­ing to feel that they have a stake in what hap­pened.”

The con­tro­versy around Ghome­shi sur­faced on Oct. 24, 2014, when the CBC first said he was tak­ing time off from his du­ties “to deal with some per­sonal is­sues.” Two days later, the pub­lic broad­caster said it had cut ties with the pop­u­lar host.

In a lengthy Face­book mes­sage posted on the same day, Ghome­shi said he’d been fired be­cause of “a cam­paign of false al­le­ga­tions.” He also said that while he en­gaged in “rough sex” and “ad­ven­tur­ous forms of sex that in­cluded role-play, dom­i­nance and sub­mis­sion,” he only par­tic­i­pated in sex­ual prac­tices that were “mu­tu­ally agreed upon, con­sen­sual, and ex­cit­ing for both part­ners.”

In a sep­a­rate Face­book post, he vowed to meet the al­le­ga­tions against him “di­rectly.”

Five days af­ter he was fired from the CBC, Toronto po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Ghome­shi af­ter two women had come for­ward with com­plaints. On the same day, the CBC is­sued a memo to staff say­ing it had seen “graphic ev­i­dence” that Ghome­shi had caused phys­i­cal harm to a woman.

One of the women who con­tacted po­lice was Lucy DeCoutere, an ac­tress on the TV show “Trailer Park Boys,” who was the first to speak on the record about her al­leged ex­pe­ri­ences with Ghome­shi.

DeCoutere, — the only one of the com­plainants at Ghome­shi’s trial who can be pub­licly iden­ti­fied — ac­cused the 48-year-old of chok­ing her “to the point she could not breathe” and slap­ping her “hard three times on the side of her head.”

CP PHOTO

Jian Ghome­shi is es­corted by po­lice out of court past mem­bers of the me­dia in Toronto Nov. 26, 2014. His highly an­tic­i­pated trial on sex­ual as­sault charges is set to be­gin in Toronto on Mon­day.

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