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A Judge Found Jian Ghomeshi Not Guilty On All Charges

Judge William Horkins said all three witnesses lacked credibility.

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Former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty on all charges today in a Toronto courtroom. Judge William Horkins repeatedly cited what he saw as inconsistencies and even attempts to mislead the court by the complainants.

Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ghomeshi faced five charges of sexual assault for incidents the complainants said occurred in 2002 and 2003. Three women testified against him during a trial that lasted eight days, and that put the cross-examination skills of renowned defense attorney Marie Henein on display.

Ghomeshi did not testify. He sat quietly and mostly expressionless during the trial, taking time each day to greet and chat with his mother and sister before taking his seat at the defence table.

In his decision, the judge emphasized the importance of the complainants' credibility and testimony in arriving at a verdict.

Judge: "The judgment of this court depends entirely on an assessment of the credibility & the reliability of each complainant as a witness."

In the end, "each complainant was less than full, frank, and forthcoming" in the information they provided to media, police, and the court, according to Horkins. He also cited a lack of DNA or other "tangible evidence."

As a result, Horkins said he was "forced to conclude" that the case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

"My conclusion that the evidence in this case raises a reasonable doubt is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened," Horkins wrote. ".... the evidence fails to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt."

Ghomeshi's defence was that the women fabricated claims of being choked and slapped by him without consent. Henein's strategy focused on raising inconsistencies in what the complainants said to police, the media, and others about the alleged assaults.

Markian Lozowchuk / Via hhllp.ca

“Are you now prepared to admit you lied under oath?” Henein said to the first witness early in the trial.

In his decision, Horkins dismissed her credibility as a witness by citing her faulty memory, inconsistencies, and "shifting facts." He also said the first witness "deliberately denied her oath to tell the truth" and deemed some of her behavior "odd."

The second witness, actor Lucy DeCoutere, waived a publication ban that kept the names of the other two complainants sealed. Henein's cross examination introduced evidence that was undisclosed by, and unknown to, the Crown, including emails and letters.

Court Exhibit

DeCoutere testified that she and Ghomeshi were kissing in his home when he pushed her against a wall, began choking her, and slapped her three times.

Henein's new evidence focused on DeCoutere's behaviour after the incident. The defence introduced a handwritten letter she sent Ghomeshi days after the alleged assault. In it she called him “too sparkling” and ended with, “I love your hands.”

Henein also introduced an email DeCoutere sent Ghomeshi the day after the alleged assault.

“You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brains out," she wrote.

DeCoutere said in her testimony that the letter and emails were attempts by her to "normalize" a painful situation.

Horkins found issues with DeCoutere's testimony, and the fact that she failed to disclose relevant evidence until late in the process, or not at all.

"I find as a fact that @lucydecoutere attempted to mislead the court." #ghomeshi that's fatal

As with the first witness, he detailed inconsistencies in her testimony. He said her "reliability and credibility as a witness" had been "seriously challenged" and that she displayed a "willful carelessness with the truth."

Regarding DeCoutere's "fuck your brains out" email, the judge said it contained not "a trace of animosity or offence" about the alleged assault the night before. He also questioned her decision to send Ghomeshi flowers.

Horkins also addressed the thousands of electronic messages that had been exchanged between DeCoutere and the third complainant. He said they showed "extreme dedication to bringing down Ghomeshi."

Alexandra Newbould / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The judge said he found fault with her failure to disclose that detail earlier. He quoted Henein by saying that the witness was "playing chicken with the justice system" by not disclosing that information.

“It’s an omission," the third witness said on the stand when asked why she didn't previously disclose it. "It’s an embarrassing thing to say.... It was a misjudgment and an absolute mistake.”

Horkins concluded that the third witness was not "particularly precise or consistent" in her testimony.

Ghomeshi now faces another trial in June. A fourth woman alleges he sexually assaulted her in 2008 in the workplace while he was the host of Q.

Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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