Canadian radio star not guilty of sexual assault, judge questions accusers

Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:03pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Disgraced Canadian radio personality Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty of sexual assault on Thursday when a judge ruled that none of his three accusers were credible, sparking debate over how the country's judicial system treats victims of sexual violence.

In a 25-page verdict, Judge William Horkins noted inconsistencies in the testimony of all three complainants, saying one had "played chicken with the justice system," while another was "manipulative" and a third "deceptive."

The high-profile case has drawn parallels with that of entertainer Bill Cosby, a national figure in the United States who faces multiple accusations of sexual abuse over many years. Cosby has long denied the allegations.

Ghomeshi, the 48-year-old former host of Q, an internationally syndicated music and arts program, had pleaded not guilty to all charges. He did not testify in the trial, but admitted in a 2014 Facebook post that he participated in rough, but consensual, sex. He faces another trial in June for a different count of sexual assault.

"The evidence of each complainant suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behavior, but was tainted by outright deception," Horkins said in his decision.

Two of the complainants cannot be named, while one, Canadian actress Lucy DeCoutere, waived her right to anonymity.

The three women testified that Ghomeshi, one of the top stars at public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corp, hit them, pulled their hair, or choked them during intimacy in 2002 and 2003.

The complaints arose after the CBC fired Ghomeshi in 2014 for "consistently" breaching behavior standards. In response to being fired, Ghomeshi said in a Facebook post that he participates in "exciting" sex including dominance and submission, but only with the consent of his partner.   Continued...

Former Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein (R), after an Ontario judge found him not guilty on four sexual assault charges and one count of choking in Toronto, March 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Jenna Marie Wakani