TORONTO (Reuters) - A celebrity radio host was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault on Wednesday in a scandal that has grabbed Canada’s media spotlight.
Jian Ghomeshi, 47, former host of the internationally syndicated music and arts program Q on Canadian Broadcasting Corp radio, surrendered to police and was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one of choking, Toronto police said.
His lawyer said Ghomeshi would plead not guilty to the charges.
Ghomeshi was released on bail of C$100,000 ($88,645) after a brief court appearance. He was ordered to surrender his passport and live with his mother in the city’s north end.
Surrounded by police, Ghomeshi walked through a crush of reporters outside the courthouse without speaking to anyone and sped off in a car with his lawyer.
“Mr. Ghomeshi will be pleading not guilty. We will address these allegations fully, directly in a courtroom,” Marie Henein, his lawyer, said in a statement to reporters. “It is not my practice to litigate my cases in the media. This one will be no different.”
The charges follow a month-long police investigation into allegations that Ghomeshi, a former folk-rock musician who is a household name in Canada, sexually assaulted and harassed several women.
On Tuesday, Ghomeshi dropped a C$55 million ($48.95 million) lawsuit against his former employer for wrongful dismissal and said he would pay the legal costs.
The scandal broke when the CBC fired Ghomeshi in October, saying it had received information that precluded it from continuing its relationship with the host. The Q show, now hosted by someone else, is carried on Public Radio International and has had a wide following on National Public Radio in the United States.
Ghomeshi took to Facebook after he was fired, saying it was because of his preference for consensual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in sex. He also said that an ex-girlfriend and a reporter were out to get him.
A string of women, including co-workers, came forward with allegations of misconduct by Ghomeshi after his dismissal, mostly anonymously in the media. Several also went to the Toronto police.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Tom Brown and Grant McCool