TORONTO – Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted of all charges in his highly publicized trial, but what implications will that decision have on his next upcoming sexual assault case?
The 48-year-old former host of CBC’s flagship program Q stood accused of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He was found not guilty of all charges on Thursday, after an intense eight-day trial that heard explosive allegations from three complainants.
Global News legal analyst Lorne Honickman said Thursday’s decision could have an impact on Ghomeshi’s next trial on June 6, but it’s likely that will happen “behind closed doors.”
“The complainant in the next case may have some reservations,” Honickman said, adding that the Crown would likely be closely reviewing the reasons behind Justice William B. Horkins’ decision in preparation for the upcoming trial.
“It may empower the Crown to look at what things it may [have done] right and what it needs to do for the next trial.”
Toronto lawyer Ari Goldkind said the Crown will likely focus on the issue of corroboration between the upcoming complainant’s statements to police and her testimony, in light of alleged credibility issues raised by Horkins with regard to witnesses in Ghomeshi’s first trial.
“I think it will make the Crown take a much closer look at whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction with that complainant,” he said.
“I think that they’ll probably ask the police to re-interview the complainant or try and dig anything up.”
The upcoming trial is being heard separately from the charges brought forth by Lucy DeCoutere and two other witnesses protected under publication ban because Goldkind said those allegations “all had a similar connection or nexus.”
He added that those incidents were alleged to have taken place in Ghomeshi’s home and were related to his dating life, whereas the allegations in the upcoming trial were reported to have taken place in “a very different factual context and setting.”
Goldkind said the ruling in Thursday’s case could have an impact on the Crown’s decision whether or not to proceed with the remaining sexual assault charge in court at all.
“At the end of the day the Crown may not want to lose face by proceeding to a trial that doesn’t have a reasonable prospect of conviction,” he said.
“But the flip side is, the Crown may also not want to lose face by pulling a charge simply because they’ve lost these three.”
In light of this, Goldkind said he believes the next trial will continue as planned.
“I think the Crown at this point is so all-in that I expect them to put that witness up on the stand,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they just let the chips fall where they may.”