Toronto police charge ex-radio host in sex assault case
Toronto — Prominent former Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio host Jian Ghomeshi was arrested Wednesday on sexual assault charges and ordered to live with his mother while the case that has rocked Canada’s vaunted public broadcaster is heard.
The former star CBC radio host was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of what authorities called “overcome resistance — choking,” Toronto police said in a statement.
After media reports of sexual assault allegations against Ghomeshi first emerged in October, the CBC fired the 47-year-old host of “Q,” a popular radio show on culture that was also heard on many public radio stations in the U.S. Ghomeshi, who first gained fame as a member of the 1990s satirical pop band Moxy Fruvous, denied the allegations, saying he had consensual “rough sex” with women.
In his first public appearance since the allegations surfaced, Ghomeshi appeared briefly in court, where a justice of the peace granted him bail on condition he turns over his passport and lives with his mother. Bail was set at $100,000. He’s due in court again on Jan. 8.
A publication ban on details about the case has been imposed.
Marie Henein, Ghomeshi’s lawyer, said to a crush of media outside the court room that he will be pleading not guilty and the allegations will be addressed “fully” in court. A somber Ghomeshi said nothing.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair declined comment earlier, saying the matter is now before the courts.
When the CBC fired Ghomeshi in October, it said his firing was prompted by the emergence of “graphic” evidence that he had caused physical injury to a person.
Ghomeshi defended his actions in a 1,500-word statement on Facebook then, saying women consented to having “rough sex” with him and that he’s the victim of a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. After the Toronto Star reported several more allegations days later, Ghomeshi posted that he would confront the allegations “directly,” but wouldn’t discuss them with the media.
Police urged in late October for other women to come forward and launched an investigation after nine women contacted various media sources to report incidents of assault and sexual assault involving Ghomeshi.
One of the women who contacted police was actress Lucy DeCoutere, a star of the long-running TV and film series “Trailer Park Boys.”
DeCoutere was the first woman who made allegations against Ghomeshi to speak on the record about her experience. DeCoutere said she went on a date with him and alleges that when they returned to his home, he pressed her up against a wall, choked her and slapped her across the face several times.
In a statement issued Wednesday, DeCoutere said the Ghomeshi scandal has led to “a major shift” in Canada’s conversation about violence against women. “It has been an overwhelming and painful time for many people, including myself, but also very inspiring. I hope that victims’ voices continue to be heard and that this is the start of a change that is so desperately needed,” she said.
Author and lawyer Reva Seth became the second woman to go public, writing in the Huffington Post that Ghomeshi put his hands around her throat and sexually assaulted her, although it was not known if she was one of the women who filed a complaint to police against Ghomeshi.
After he was fired, Ghomeshi launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. He dropped that lawsuit Tuesday. A union grievance alleging dismissal without proper cause remains.