Jian Ghomeshi trial: Lucy DeCoutere alleges he took her ‘by the throat,’ hit her multiple times
The second witness to testify at the trial of disgraced former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi brought forth explosive allegations accusing him of choking her and slapping her multiple times while at his Toronto home, while his defence lawyer continued her methodical attempts to discredit witness’ testimony by highlighting inconsistencies.
Trailer Park Boys actress and Royal Canadian Air Force Captain Lucy DeCoutere, the only alleged victim not under publication ban, told the court Thursday she had met Ghomeshi at an arts conference in Banff in June 2003.
She said Ghomeshi was “flirtatious,” “playful” and “fun” during the meeting and that he gave her his business card and asked to meet her again.
“It seemed like he was asking me out,” DeCoutere said of the initial meeting, adding that the two sent “hilarious,” fun” and “cheeky” emails after meeting.
WATCH: Lucy DeCoutere takes the stand in the Jian Ghomeshi trial. The defence claims there were serious omissions in her story. Christina Stevens reports.
When the two later met for dinner in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood, DeCoutere said the two spoke on the phone but chatted through email more frequently, adding she wanted to “explore” Ghomeshi’s personality more because she didn’t know much about him or his work.
She also testified that some of the content of the emails contained “weird slang” for “outrageous” sexual acts, including one known as a “rusty trombone,” but added that she never intended to follow up on them and they “were always meant hypothetically.”
WATCH: As a second witness is expected to testify in the trial of disgraced former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, the judge ruled Thursday that a photo of the first complainant wearing a bikini that had been sent to Ghomeshi after alleged attacks took place will not be released to the media.
On one occasion, DeCoutere said Ghomeshi tried to initiate “phone sex” with her, but said she found it “out of place” because the two didn’t know each other.
“It was something that I was not interested in,” she told the court, adding that she shut down his advances.
Then in July 2003, DeCoutere said she travelled to Toronto from Halifax to visit friends and to see Ghomeshi in order to determine if they could “pursue a relationship.”
Then when the pair went for dinner on the Danforth, DeCoutere said they had a conversation that was “easy” but “awkward” on both of their parts.
She said Ghomeshi then told her that if the two did date, she’d have to contend with rumours that he was gay among others.
WATCH: A group of supporters for the alleged victims accusing Jian Ghomeshi of sexual assault rallied outside the Toronto courthouse on Thursday, calling on other alleged victims of sexual assault to speak out.
During dinner, DeCoutere said Ghomeshi then made a comment to her that he wanted to take her back to his home to listen to music and “just hold” her in his arms.
“It’s not like he’s going to kill me,” DeCoutere said of her thought process at the time, adding that numerous people had seen them together having dinner.
She also testified that she “knew there was a chance that we might be intimate,” but added that she didn’t intend to have sex with Ghomeshi that night.
On the way back to Ghomeshi’s home, DeCoutere said he tried to kiss her but it “was not the right time” and it felt “chronologically forced” as the two had not known each other for long, but she could not remember if he did kiss her.
When they arrived at his home, DeCoutere said she found it “perfect,” “very together” and “tidy.”
She said Ghomeshi then showed her his closet, with clothes neatly organized by colour, which is when he then allegedly attacked her.
“He started kissing me and then he took me by the throat and pushed me against the wall,” DeCoutere told the court, adding that Ghomeshi had slapped her three times in the face with an “open hand.”
“He hit me a couple of times, then was looking at me, then hit me again.”
DeCoutere said she had consented to kissing Ghomeshi, but not to slapping.
“I was just receiving it,” she said.
“All I could register was not being able to breathe and shock, surprise.”
DeCoutere said she did not lose consciousness after the alleged attack, adding it was “hard enough to get my attention, not hard enough to leave a mark.”
DeCoutere added that she was “totally surprised” by the alleged slaps to the face by Ghomeshi and said he said nothing to her during.
“It’s impossible to consent to something you’re not asked,” she told the court, adding she “did not have any idea how to react to what happened.”
But DeCoutere said she stayed at Ghomeshi’s home for an hour after the alleged attack, adding that she didn’t want to be “rude” and tried to “placate the situation.” She later told the court this was “outrageous” in retrospect.
She also said she didn’t want to “anger” Ghomeshi after the alleged attack and didn’t feel “fully safe.”
DeCoutere said the message she perceived from Ghomeshi after the alleged incident was “I could kill you or do some serious damage,” adding that it didn’t feel “sexual” but rather “something else.”
DeCoutere said the two then kissed good night because “I didn’t want to seem frosty and I didn’t want to seem mad.”
“I was thinking that maybe this assault was a one-off,” she said, adding that she had “no experience with this.”
DeCoutere testified that she “didn’t know what to say” to Ghomeshi after the alleged attack, adding that she had “nowhere to put it” and couldn’t “verbalize it.”
“It never left me, it coloured every encounter I had with him after,” she said, adding that she “felt sorry” for Ghomeshi for thinking this type of behaviour was appropriate.
The alleged victim also said she wanted to “protect” Ghomeshi, felt “compassion” for him and believed that she was the one who had “put herself in this place.”
She added that she didn’t know how to process the alleged attack, so therefore decided to “kill it.”
DeCoutere also noted that Ghomeshi’s demeanour did not change after the alleged attack, comparing it to “opening a can of tuna” and that it “was like it didn’t happen” and he was “very relaxed.”
She told the court she saw him again numerous times after the alleged attack –including once for brunch, at an arts show and at a barbecue.
DeCoutere said she didn’t want a “romantic relationship” with Ghomeshi but sent him flowers when she returned to Halifax, something she said she did often with men she had spent time with.
After that, their communication allegedly “petered out” aside from a few emails DeCoutere said she could not remember the content of, until she ran into him at the Gemini Awards when he presented an award her TV show was nominated for.
He then allegedly approached her while with his date and pretended to choke her, she told the court.
“He put his hand on my throat to remind me that he had choked me,” DeCoutere said, adding that she “couldn’t believe” he acknowledged the alleged attack.
DeCoutere said she then saw him for dinner again in Toronto and again in Banff in 2004 when she said the two attended a TV conference.
During a karaoke performance, DeCoutere said Ghomeshi came up onstage and took the microphone from her while she was performing and sang a duet of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” which she said was “intensely ironic” in retrospect.
She then was interviewed for an episode of Ghomeshi’s show Q in Halifax with her Trailer Park Boys co-star Sarah Dunsworth, which she said she thought he believed she was “setting him up to take him down” and the interview was “cut short.”
DeCoutere said there was also a “fairly hot” email exchange with Ghomeshi after she had posted on Facebook about his high profile interview with Billy Bob Thornton. She believed he was “hurt” after she showed support for the actor.
When asked why she didn’t go to the police after the alleged attack, DeCoutere said she didn’t think the incident qualified because she wasn’t “beaten to pieces” and she thought she would have had to have been “broken and raped” to report it.
She then said she decided to speak to the media, doing interviews with Jesse Brown of CANADALAND, the Toronto Star, CTV, CBC and Global News.
DeCoutere said her intention was never to report Ghomeshi criminally until she saw a public appeal for information related to the former CBC radio host by Toronto police.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein began her cross-examination of the witness by questioning the sequence of events of the alleged attack, pointing to media interviews and police statements that had differing details.
Henein highlighted a comment that DeCoutere had made during her statement to police in which she said that the events at Ghomeshi’s home that night were “jumbled” and insinuated that the alleged victim was “confused” about the timeline of events.
DeCoutere said she was “exhausted” at the time she spoke to police last year, but had a clearer memory of the events when she gave her testimony Thursday.
Henein also showed that DeCoutere had characterized aspects of the dinner conversation with Ghomeshi at the Danforth restaurant as “creepy” in a Global News interview on Oct. 30, 2014, but called it “cheesy” in a CBC radio interview days later.
Henein also purported that Thursday’s testimony was the first time that DeCoutere said there was a “pause” in between the second and third alleged slaps to her face in Ghomeshi’s residence.
The alleged “kiss goodnight” was also something Henein said had never been raised to police or in media interviews previously, as well as another possible kiss on a walk back to Ghomeshi’s home.
“Quite a bit of kissing has been added since you first told your story,” the defence lawyer said, adding that it apparently “wasn’t appropriate” for DeCoutere to kiss Ghomeshi on the walk home but it was appropriate to kiss him goodnight after the alleged attack.
DeCoutere said “people sometimes do strange things under stress” and that she was “acting in reaction to something shocking” when she allegedly kissed him goodnight.
The complainant also said she thought the kiss goodnight was “inconsequential” in her statement to police and said she did so as a way of “normalizing” the alleged incident with Ghomeshi.
Henein then asked why DeCoutere agreed to meet Ghomeshi again at all, to which DeCoutere responded that she “wanted to wash my mind of that memory” and replace it with “good experiences” with Ghomeshi.
Numerous photos of DeCoutere with Ghomeshi were then presented to the court by Henein, showing him with his arm around her at a barbecue, at brunch with Ghomeshi and during a walk in a Toronto park.
DeCoutere said she didn’t remember photos of her being taken “hours” after the alleged attack by Ghomeshi – while Henein classified the photo at the barbecue as the two of them “cuddling.”
“I was trying to normalize something that was so strange” DeCoutere said of the photos, adding that she didn’t tell police about the brunch because she didn’t think it was relevant — to which Henein responded that answer was “well-rehearsed.”
“It doesn’t impact the fact that he assaulted me,” the alleged victim said in response to the details of the weekend that were omitted from her police statement.
Henein pointed out that police had asked DeCoutere for “as much detail as possible” in her statement, but her response was that she was facing a “learning curve” while providing details to police.
Henein asked how DeCoutere remembered minute details of her and Ghomeshi’s conversation at dinner, but couldn’t “remember cuddling with a guy you said choked and slapped you?”
In her testimony Thursday, DeCoutere also said that she was initially not interested in pursuing legal action against Ghomeshi, but told police at the time that she was going to “press charges just to get the ball rolling.”
Henein also pointed to a message DeCoutere sent to a friend in which she allegedly said she wanted Ghomeshi “f—ing decimated,” which DeCoutere said was “hyperbole” and that she was fielding a lot of “violent” correspondence at the time.
DeCoutere also reportedly said “f— Ghomeshi” in an email to a friend, which she admitted in court was “fairly aggressive.”
Henein then alleged that DeCoutere would “do anything” to get the publication ban on her name lifted in the trial, raised the possibility that she contacted another alleged victim where she said she was “prepped to take this on” and said that the alleged victim’s Twitter followers had “skyrocketed” after her involvement in the case.
Henein also raised a radio interview DeCoutere had done in which she had allegedly said she was “to sexual assault what David Beckham is to Armani underwear,” which the complainant conceded was a “terrible analogy.”
The defence lawyer also showed correspondence DeCoutere had sent when she expressed excitement over the fact that actress Mia Farrow had shown her support for the alleged victim by using the hashtag “#IBelieveLucy” on Twitter.
Another comment that Henein used to discredit DeCoutere was a statement she had made to a friend that she was “excited for court” because “it’s theatre at its best.”
Henein also alleged that in DeCoutere’s police statement in 2014, she had said that the extent of her relationship with Ghomeshi only lasted that weekend during the summer of 2003 and had allegedly not made reference to other emails.
DeCoutere said she had looked for the emails in the days before she gave her police statement, but could not locate them.
“All he really has is a few emails from me,” DeCoutere allegedly told a friend, with Henein adding the alleged victim also told The Canadian Press that she didn’t go to the police initially because there would be “so many holes” in her story.
The razor sharp defence lawyer finished her cross-examination of the witness by alleging that DeCoutere had only raised “concern” over the content of emails with Ghomeshi on Tuesday of this week.
Henein then finished her cross-examination by alluding to unspecified “new” information that was not disclosed in DeCoutere’s testimony.
“Do you want to tell the court the real conversation, the one you have not told anyone here today?” Henein asked, to which DeCoutere responded she was not familiar with.
That information was not disclosed in court Thursday and Henein said she would continue her cross-examination of the witness Friday.
Forty-eight-year-old 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.
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 him have been proven in court.
LIVEBLOG: Follow the latest in the Ghomeshi trial with our team of reporters below.
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