Jian Ghomeshi trial: Witness sent flirtatious ‘bait’ emails after alleged attack
On the second day of the trial of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, his defence lawyer tore into the first witness’ testimony and presented emails after alleged attacks took place, which the complainant initially denied sending but later said were meant to “bait” him.
The first email, which was sent to Ghomeshi from the witness at 3 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2004, opened with the line “Good to see you again!” despite telling police six times under oath and in her testimony that she had not communicated with Ghomeshi further.
“Every time I see him on television I’m reminded of it,” the complainant told police in her statement in November 2014, to which Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie Henein then corroborated with numerous examples of the witness saying she had to “turn off” the radio or TV when she would see or hear Ghomeshi.
Ghomeshi, who skyrocketed to fame as host of CBC Radio One’s popular current affairs program Q stands accused of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He has pleaded not guilty.
The witness, whose identity is protected under publication ban, said she did not “remember the exact wording” of the email and had testified earlier in the morning that she remembered drafting an email but did not think had she sent it.
“Your show is still great,” the email reads. “If you want to keep in touch this is my email!!!!”
The email also suggested Ghomeshi look at a website when he takes a break from “ploughing snow naked” – something the witness said in court Tuesday was intentionally “flirtatious.”
“I did want him to email me, I did want him to call me,” the alleged victim said, adding she did so to then ask why he had allegedly “violently” punched her.
“The email was bait.”
The alleged victim said in court that she did not remember the email being sent, which is why she did not inform police or the Crown of its existence previously.
“He’s not going to call if I insult his show,” she said, while reading the email in court, adding that she was in a committed relationship at the time and was not interested in Ghomeshi.
“I wanted an explanation.”
Six months later, Henein presented another email from the alleged victim to Ghomeshi on June 22, 2004 at 1:46 a.m.
“I was watching you on Screw the Vote,” it read, to which the witness added in court that “doesn’t mean I was watching him.”
That email also had a photo of her in a bikini attached, titled “beach1.jpg”, that the witness said was part of the “bait” used to get Ghomeshi to explain why the alleged attacks had taken place.
Henein suggested the idea that the complainant would send a bikini photo to an alleged attacker who had “traumatized” her was an “implausible explanation.”
She finished her cross-examination of the witness by emphasizing that Ghomeshi did not respond or call her, despite her phone number being provided.
WATCH: The case of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi has gripped the nation not just because of who is, but because of the violent sexual acts against women he’s accused of. Jennifer Tryon reports on the the testimony from the first female witness on the stand.
During a break from trial, a lawyer for the witness – Jacob Jesin – released a statement on her behalf.
“This experience of coming to court to testify and give evidence and to face Mr. Ghomeshi has been extraordinarily difficult in light of what happened to me,” she said in the statement.
“I always understood that this process would be difficult and I remain satisfied that I chose to come forward despite how difficult this process has been.”
The witness also thanked her friends, family and the police, who she said had steadfastly “supported me in my efforts to do what I believe was right.”
“I want to encourage other victims of abuse to come forward, and not be afraid,” the complainant said.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that I have had a chance to tell my story openly.”
The Crown was expected to bring forth a second witness Tuesday afternoon, but due to unspecified scheduling issues the trial was adjourned Tuesday at 3 p.m. and will resume Thursday at 10 a.m.
Forty-eight-year-old Ghomeshi, who was born in London, England but raised in Thornhill, Ont., will face a second trial in June on a separate charge of sexual assault, which arose from an alleged incident in January 2008 while he was the host of Q.
None of the allegations against Ghomeshi have been proven in court.
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