Timeline: Jian Ghomeshi sex assault scandal
**WARNING: This story contains disturbing content throughout**
TORONTO – What started with a vague and puzzling dismissal from the CBC in October 2014 led to multiple sex assault charges against former Q host Jian Ghomeshi in November 2014, shortly after Toronto Police launched an investigation and called on victims—of any assault—to come forward. Almost a year and a half later, Ghomeshi was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking.
He will face a second trial in June 2016 on a separate charge of sexual assault from an alleged incident in January 2008 while he was hosting Q.
Global News has reached out for comment from Ghomeshi numerous times, with no response.
Here’s a look at how the scandal unfolded.
Friday Oct. 24, 2014 – CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson says Ghomeshi is taking an “undetermined” leave from his job at the public broadcaster “to deal with some personal issues,” which many speculated to be related to the recent death of his father.
Around 2 p.m. Sunday Oct. 26, 2014 – CBC issues a statement saying they were severing ties with Ghomeshi because of “information” that “precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian.”
“The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end,” read a statement on the broadcaster’s website. “This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well.”
Around 3 p.m. Oct. 26, 2014 – Rock-It Promotions issues a statement saying Ghomeshi instructed his lawyers Dentons Canada LLP to file a suit against the CBC on his behalf.
“The action will claim general and punitive damages for among other things, breach of confidence and bad faith in the amount of $ 50 million,” read a statement from a Rock-It Promotions spokesperson. “Concurrently, Mr. Ghomeshi will commence a grievance for reinstatement under his collective agreement.”
CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said in an email Sunday afternoon that CBC would contest the lawsuit vigorously; CBC declined to comment on Ghomeshi’s Facebook post.
The media learns Ghomeshi has hired PR-firm Navigator, known for its “issues management, crisis response and reputation recovery.”
3:44 p.m. Oct. 26, 2014 – A tweet from the official Twitter account of the Scotiabank Giller Prize confirms Ghomeshi will no longer host the Giller Prize gala, scheduled for Nov. 10 in Toronto.
6:11 p.m. Oct. 26, 2014 – Ghomeshi publishes a detailed Facebook post on why he says he was fired by the CBC.
“I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer,” Ghomeshi claimed in the post, which a publicist said had been written by the radio host.
Ghomeshi wrote he has “always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom” but only engages in “sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.”
“The implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie,” read the Facebook post.
Evening of Oct. 26, 2014 –The Toronto Star publishes a story containing allegations from three women who say Ghomeshi was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the run-up to such encounters.
“The three women interviewed by the Star …allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex. A fourth woman, who worked at CBC, said Ghomeshi told her at work: “I want to hate f— you,” read the report.
Through his lawyer, Ghomeshi said he “does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory,” according to the Star.
Monday Oct. 27, 2014 – Ghomeshi’s lawyers file a lawsuit upped to $55-million, plus special damages, alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation by the public broadcaster.
Employment and labour lawyer Howard Levitt says the lawsuit amounts to nothing more than a PR stunt, and called it a “joke” since Ghomeshi is a member of a union.
“Unionized employees…cannot sue for wrongful dismissal, they can’t sue for constructive dismissal, they can’t sue for anything arising over the employment relationship. All they can do is go to an arbitrator and hope to get their job back and some back-pay,” said Levitt.
Ghomeshi’s lawyers at Dentons Canada LLP said they were unable to comment “as this matter is before the courts” in an email to Global News.
Watch below: Ghomeshi lawsuit all about PR, not about the law, says labour lawyer
Wednesday Oct. 29, 2014 – An anonymous woman says she was on a date with Ghomeshi ten years ago when he “threw me in front of him on the ground and started closed-fist pounding me on the head repeatedly until my ears were ringing” in an interview on CBC’s As it Happens.
The Star publishes another article with allegations from a total of eight women, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere who was the first to identify herself in the case and a former Q staffer who Ghomeshi allegedly told he wanted to “hate f—.”
“Because it was a date, we started kissing, which was very normal. And then at a certain point he pressed me against the wall with my throat and then he slapped me, which was not invited,” DeCoutere told Global News in a subsequent interview.
“Neither was it discussed or suggested, and therefore there was no way that that could be consensual.”
Watch below: Canadian Television actress Lucy DeCoutere speaks to Global News’ Laura Brown about allegations that the former CBC radio host of Q was physically violent with her.
The Star article also detailed two accounts from women who said once in his home, Ghomeshi “introduced them to Big Ears Teddy, a stuffed bear, and he turned the bear around just before he slapped or choked them, saying that ‘Big Ears Teddy shouldn’t see this’.”
After the Star‘s report, a Redditor posted a link to Twitter handle @bigearsteddy, an account that was active in April, and accuses Ghomeshi of abuse in several tweets.
Late Wednesday Oct. 29, 2014 – Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication starts “looking into the situation” after the April Twitter messages resurfaced late Wednesday, according to spokesperson Steven Reid.
Reid said at least 53 Carleton journalism students did apprenticeships at CBC in Toronto between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014, but may not be able to obtain information on which programs the students worked on since the CBC “handles” the show “assignments.”
“At this point we still have no information that suggests any of our students interned at ‘Q’ or were victims of assault,” Reid wrote in an email to Global News Friday afternoon.
9:59 a.m. Thursday Oct. 30, 2014 – Ghomeshi thanks his supporters and declines to provide further comment to media in a Facebook post:
Around 3 p.m. – The CBC says it’s hiring a third-party company to conduct an investigation in the wake of the allegations.
A memo from the CBC’s Heather Conway says the move follows “accounts of impropriety towards (CBC) employees,” and that the broadcaster is in the process of selecting a company to “conduct a rigorous, independent investigation beyond what’s already been done.”
Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday October 30, 2014 – Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair holds a press conference to ask anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward to the police. Blair said his force isn’t actively investigating Ghomeshi because no one has come forward to police.
“We have not received a complaint of any criminality for us to investigate but we have heard the media reports and we want to make sure that anyone who has experienced that and believes they are the victim of sexual assault or any assault, to come forward and report it,” Blair said.
Watch below: Police chief urges sexual assault victims to come forward in wake of Ghomeshi allegations
Between 4-5 p.m. Thursday Oct. 30, 2014 – Both Navigator PR firm and Rock-It Promotions announce they will no longer represent Ghomeshi.
Navigator said due to a change of “circumstances” they are “no longer able to continue.”
4:53 p.m. Thursday Oct. 30, 2014 – Lawyer and author Reva Seth publishes a blog in the Huffington Post, alleging Ghomeshi assaulted her during a date that seemed normal at first, and started with kissing before he “suddenly” changed.
“Jian had his hands around my throat, had pulled down my pants and was aggressively and violently penetrating me with his fingers. When it was over, I got up and it was clear I was really angry. My sexual interactions until then had always been consensual, enjoyable and fun,” wrote Seth.
Friday Oct. 31, 2014 – The CBC alleges that “graphic” evidence that Ghomeshi had injured someone was what prompted the public broadcaster to fire him.
Later in the evening, Toronto police announced they have launched an investigation into Ghomeshi after two women came forward with allegations against him.
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 — Toronto police appeal for public assistance in their criminal investigation of Ghomeshi. They say that a third woman has come forward to complain. Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins says investigators want anyone with evidence such as video, photographs or social media chats related to the case to contact them.
Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 – The Polaris Music Prize removes Ghomeshi from its jury without providing a reason for its decision.
On Monday afternoon, Carleton University updates its tally to report 73 Carleton journalism students had been placed at CBC Toronto between 2003 and 2014; at least one on Q. The statement says no concerns have been raised about the placements, but current and former students have been contacted to let them know counselling services are available to anyone who needs them.
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 – CBC says Arif Noorani, executive producer at Q, is taking time off amid the Ghomeshi scandal for an unspecified amount of time. There are conflicting reports that Noorani was told by a union representative of allegations made by a former producer on the show that Ghomeshi had grabbed her and made a lewd suggestion. Noorani says he did not know of the sexual allegations.
Also Tuesday, Toronto’s police chief renews his call for victims of sexual assault to come forward. He refused to say whether investigators have received additional evidence or if any more victims with allegations against Ghomeshi have come forward since the three women confirmed on Saturday.
The CBC appoints Toronto employment lawyer Janice Rubin to lead an independent investigation. Rubin will report to senior CBC management about what she hears and what her investigations uncover along with recommendations on resolving any complaints.
The Star reports a male former student at York University came forward with allegations against Ghomeshi from over 25 years ago. Jim Hounslow told the paper Ghomeshi “grabbed my genitals and fondled them” when the ex-CBC host was president of the student federation. Hounslow didn’t file a complaint, but told the Star Ghomeshi was considered a “sexual predator” on campus. The university found no record of complaints, but acknowledged it’s “highly unlikely” a decades-old complaint would still exist.
Morning of Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 – The Star reports Ghomeshi has hired prominent criminal lawyer Marie Henein to represent him; Henein is known for representing former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, who was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death following an altercation with a cyclist in 2009. Those charges were eventually withdrawn.
Around 2 p.m.– The CBC asks a court to dismiss the $55-million lawsuit filed by Ghomeshi, saying the claim is “without merit” and an abuse of the court’s process. The broadcaster says that as a member of the Canadian Media Guild—a union with a collective agreement—Ghomeshi’s only legal avenue is through the arbitration process, not the courts.
Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 – CBC executive vice-president of English services Heather Conway says a complaint filed in 2010 by a woman who worked with Ghomeshi was “clearly mishandled.” Conway said managers at CBC made “some efforts” to intervene and improve the work environment at Q but failed to do so. Earlier in the day, four Toronto lawyers offered free legal aid to anyone coming forward with complaints about Ghomeshi.
Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 – CBC announces Arif Noorani, executive producer of Q radio program, is leaving the show but will continue working at the public broadcaster in the aftermath of the scandal. Noorani has denied hearing allegations from a former producer that Ghomeshi sexually harassed her at work.
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 – Former CBC news director Jamie Purdon is announced as interim executive producer of Q after Noorani asked to be reassigned.
Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 – The Toronto Star reports CBC fired Ghomeshi after he showed them video and text messages that allegedly depicted bruising on a woman caused by a cracked rib. The showing allegedly happened a few hours before Ghomeshi was put on a leave of absence.
Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 – Ghomeshi withdraws his lawsuit against the CBC. Spokesman Chuck Thompson says “the civil suit has been dismissed with costs in favour of CBC” but the agreement reached between lawyers for the CBC and Ghomeshi is still subject to a court order.
Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 – Ghomeshi surrenders to Toronto Police and is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance – choking.”
Watch below: Ghomeshi charged with sexual assault and released on bail. Christina Stevens reports.
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 – Kathryn Borel identifies herself as the colleague first quoted in an Oct. 26 Toronto Star article whose yawn at a 2007 staff meeting resulted in Ghomeshi allegedly saying, “I want to hate f— you, to wake you up.” In an article written for the Guardian, Borel alleges there were “uninvited back massages,” and describes an incident in which Ghomeshi grabbed her waist from behind in front of a co-worker and “repeatedly thrust his crotch” into her. She describes a lack of action on the part of both CBC staff and her union, the Canadian Media Guild, when she brought forward her complaints.
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 – The CBC begins removing all of Ghomeshi’s interviews off of its website as the show undergoes a “revamp.”
Monday, Jan. 5, 2015 – CBC announces its head of radio, Chris Boyce, and executive director of human resources and industrial relations for English services, Todd Spencer, “will be on a leave of absence effective today until further notice” in a memo to staff. Boyce led an internal investigation into Ghomeshi’s conduct over the summer that he said failed to reveal any evidence the radio host had harassed co-workers, but a report by The Fifth Estate suggests no co-workers were asked about Ghomeshi’s behaviour.
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015: Three new charges are laid against Ghomeshi at a brief court appearance; Ghomeshi’s lawyer says he will plead not guilty. The identities of the new victims are covered by a publication ban. His next court date is set for Feb. 4.
Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015: A member of Ghomeshi’s legal team appears in court alone. She told the court they have received more than 1,000 pages of disclosure from the crown.
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015: Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie Henein made a court appearance alone at the College Park courthouse. A judicial pretrial was set for March 27. She told the court she is still waiting for outstanding material.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015: CBC announces rapper Shad will replace Jian Ghomeshi as the new host of Q, the radio program which Ghomeshi helped create.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015: The CBC announces a rebrand of sorts for the program Ghomeshi hosted, changing the name of the show from Q to q.
Thursday, April 16, 2015: CBC releases the Janice Rubin report on how the public broadcaster handled the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, roughly six months after it was commissioned.
Rubin interviewed dozens of CBC employees for the report and concluded that CBC management should have known or should have done more with what they did know about Ghomeshi’s “problematic behaviour.”
Tuesday, May 12, 2015: Crown prosecutors dropped two of seven sexual assault charges against Jian Ghomeshi. Two trial dates have been set for February and June of 2016. The trial will be conducted by judge only and without a jury.
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015: Ghomeshi pleads not guilty to five charges, including four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance, choking.
Monday, Feb. 1, 2016: Ghomeshi’s trial begins. A witness describes a “rage” within him that manifested itself during alleged physical attacks that left her feeling “stunned and worried” and like she had been thrown out “like trash.”
Friday, Feb. 5, 2016: The defence lawyer for Jian Ghomeshi revealed second witness Lucy DeCoutere had sent him a series of emails in the days, weeks and even years after she says he violently choked and slapped her multiple times in his Toronto home. She had testified – and told police – she had no further contact with the former CBC radio host after the alleged attack.
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016: The judge approves the submission of new evidence from a fourth witness, in an attempt to weigh her police statement that friend DeCoutere contacted her after an alleged choking incident in 2003 against the defence’s claims DeCoutere fabricated allegations.
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016: Fourth witness Sarah Dunsworth describes hearing that an alleged choking incident at Ghomeshi’s home “freaked her out” and “came from out of nowhere.” The Crown argued Dunsworth would corroborate allegations made by DeCoutere.
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016: The judge says he will reserve his decision until March 24, after hearing extensive closing arguments from the Crown and the defence.
Thursday, March 24, 2016: Ghomeshi is found not guilty on all charges. He was acquitted based on Justice William B. Horkins’ assertion that there was “outright deception” in the testimony brought forth by three complainants. Read the full verdict here.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016: Ghomeshi signs a peace bond in exchange for the prosecution dropping a charge of sexual assault against him. He also apologizes in court for his “thoughtless and insensitive” behaviour to former colleague Kathryn Borel who had accused him of sexually assaulting her.
Ful text of the apology can be found here.
Ghomeshi will have to stay away from Borel and not possess weapons under the peace bond, which is not a finding of guilt.
Borel also publicly spoke after Ghomeshi issued the apology, saying she agreed to a peace bond over a trial because “it seemed like the clearest path to the truth.”
She said his courtroom apology is an admission of guilt even though it won’t lead to a conviction.
With files from Global News reporters Adam Miller, Adam Frisk, James Armstrong, Andrew Russell, Alexandra Posadzki, Rebecca Joseph and The Canadian Press
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