Ghomeshi trial testimony over, ruling expected March 24

Feb 11, 2016 | News

Jian Ghomeshi exiting the courthouse at Old City Hall. (Photo by Katie Pederson)

Jian Ghomeshi exiting the courthouse at Old City Hall. (Photo by Katie Pedersen)

Ali Amad, Jeremy Appel and Jennifer Berry

The Crown and the defence have wrapped up closing arguments in the trial against former CBC host, Jian Ghomeshi.

Ghomeshi has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

The defence arguments, initially presented by co-counsel Danielle Robitaille and later by Marie Henein, focused on what they descibed as the alleged victims’ “failure to disclose and efforts to conceal” their subsequent communications with Ghomeshi.

Crown Attorney Michael Callaghan argued that the three complainants’ stories indicate a troubling pattern of sexual abuse. That they pursued Ghomeshi after the fact has no bearing on whether the assaults occurred, he said.

“Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault,” said Callaghan, criticizing the “stereotypical assumptions about how people … react to sexual abuse” used by the defence.

The prosecution said that the defence did nothing to directly challenge the witnesses’ assertions that they had not consented to sexual violence.

“One cannot give consent after the fact,” Callaghan said. “Not having a response isn’t tantamount to consent.”

Henein said the complainants’ attempts to contact Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults shows there was at least some degree of consent.

She said the evidence against the accused fell short and was “riddled with inconsistencies” attributable to deception, not trauma.

“No expert will testify that perjury is indicative of trauma,” she said. “The extraordinary fact of this case is that all three complainants withheld information from police, the Crown and court.”

But Callaghan said the inconsistencies are natural given the years that had elapsed since the alleged events occurred.

“Victims of abuse often do not … disclose and if they do, a substantial amount of time might have passed,” Callaghan said.

Robitaille highlighted behaviour between Lucy DeCoutere and another complainant, who cannot be named due to a publication ban.

They exchanged more than 5,000 messages, cursing Ghomeshi and occasionally discussing specific details of their allegations.

The Crown described their relationship as merely “an informal support group.”

The trial began on Feb. 1, and Judge William Horkins said he will reserve a decision until March 24.

The accused sat silently throughout the proceedings, staring at his lawyer and blinking rapidly.

Ghomeshi will face an additional charge of sexual assault in a separate trial in June.