TORONTO — With the verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi trial set to be announced Thursday, legal experts weigh in on what can be expected from the decision.
Justice William B. Horkins has spent six weeks weighing the evidence and allegations in the high-profile trial, after closing arguments concluded on Feb. 11.
Ghomeshi, 48, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance by choking. He acknowledged in 2014 that he engaged in rough sex, but said it was consensual.
If found guilty of sexual assault, the former host of CBC’s Q faces a maximum sentence of 18 months behind bars, while the choking charge carries a possible life sentence.
“Justice Horkins will make a decision on each of those counts separately and of course he could be guilty or not guilty so we could have a variety of verdicts,” said legal analyst for Global News Lorne Honickman.
“We could have not guilty on all, guilty on all or something in between and he’ll have to make his analysis based on the fact as to whether or not the Crown proved each of those counts beyond a reasonable doubt.”
WATCH: Wrapping up the Jian Ghomeshi trial
Honickman also said there was no physical or corroborating evidence presented during the trial, which meant the case was not a “he said, she said” situation.
“Ghomeshi didn’t have to testify and did not testify and of course Justice Horkins can’t use that reason or any reasons in his decision and so it really is just a ‘she said,'” Honickman said.
“As you recall Marie Henein attacked the credibility, there were issues of inconsistencies between their testimony and their emails and then of course there were the emails that were only disclosed in and around trial and that raised credibility issues.”
Honickman added that Crown lawyer Michael Callaghan argued that the complainants “stayed consistent on their stories” as to what happened with the specific allegations, which is what the Crown said Justice Horkins should take into account in his decision.
“Certainly credibility will be front and centre,” Honickman said. “You will hear that word and the word reliability very often I predict in his judgment tomorrow.”
Toronto lawyer Ari Goldkind said he believed that a “complete acquittal” would be the “right outcome in the law” given the specifics of the case.
“There is absolutely a reasonable doubt here, it is that simple and that clear,” he said, adding that a conviction on one of the charges could be a possibility.
“I can see Judge Horkins convicting on complainant No. 1, as she was the one that did not have as big of a difficulty as the latter two and certainly didn’t appear to collude the way the latter two did … but that to me would be an extraordinarily wrong decision based on all of the wrong reasons.”
Goldkind said the activities of the complainants following the alleged sexual assaults is not at play in the trial, but the perception that the witnesses were not credible in their testimony is.
“It’s not questioning what people do after the fact or after an assault, there is no dispute that sometimes people see their abuser again, there is no dispute that people who have faced sexual assault on different levels react in different ways,” he said.
Goldkind said that he believed impartial observers of the trial would have come to the conclusion that there is reasonable doubt in the charges against Ghomeshi.
“I don’t know anybody here who has actually followed the case in or near the courtroom, no matter how much we thought Ghomeshi might have been guilty before we heard the bombshells, who doesn’t think that there is a reasonable doubt.”
Ghomeshi 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.
WATCH: Ghomeshi trial wraps up