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Everything You Need To Know About The First Week Of The Ghomeshi Trial

Two witnesses testified, some media outlets pushed for the release of a bikini photo, and the defence tabled surprise evidence.

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The sexual assault trial of disgraced former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi began in Toronto on Monday. The former Q host faces five charges of sexual assault. Here are the key takeaways from the first week.

1. The first witness in the trial said Ghomeshi sexually assaulted her twice, once in December 2002 and once in January 2003.

Alexandra Newbold / THE CANADIAN PRESS

In the first incident, the witness — whose identity is protected by a publication ban — said Ghomeshi grabbed her hair while they were kissing in his car and pulled her head back without her consent. She said he then asked her, "Do you like it like that?"

In the second incident, the witness said Ghomeshi again pulled her hair while they were standing and kissing, this time at his home in Toronto. She said that, as he pulled her hair from behind, he punched her in the back of the head three times.

The witness said she began to cry, and Ghomeshi asked her to leave. "He threw me out like trash," she told the court.

2. Marie Henein, Ghomeshi’s high-profile defence lawyer, showed why she is renowned for her cross examinations by getting the witness to concede a number of inconsistencies in her account.

Markian Lozowchuk / Via

The witness told the court Ghomeshi was driving a yellow Volkswagen Beetle when he pulled her hair in the car. Henein suggested Ghomeshi didn't own that model of car until several months later. "If he didn't own it, I was mistaken," said the witness. "I'm not a connoisseur of cars."

Henein said that the witness didn't tell the Toronto Star or two CBC programs that there was kissing involved in the first incident, when she says he pulled her hair after they entered his car. The witness said the Star got her story wrong and that she omitted the kissing from her other interviews.

Heinen pointed to two emails the witness sent to police. In the first, the witness said she "very clearly" remembered wearing hair extensions at the time of the first incident. She now says that isn't true and that it "was an error on my part."

In the other email, the witness said she recalled her head smashing into the car window when he pulled her hair. "When I wrote that, it was incorrect," she told the court.

Henein's cross examination of the witness did not address the three punches the witness says Ghomeshi delivered to her head.

3. Ghomeshi’s lawyer suggested that the first witness lied under oath when she said she never contacted Ghomeshi again after the two alleged assaults.

Court Exhibit

In the first major reveal of the trial, Henein produced two emails, both sent over a year after the second incident described by the witness.

Henein said the witness told media she was traumatized by Ghomeshi's constant visibility, avoided contact with him, and also stopped consuming any of his radio and television output. However, on her first day of testimony, the witness left open the possibility that she contacted Ghomeshi after she said she saw him last. "I have a vague recollection of composing an e-mail when I was angry, but I don't even remember if I sent it," she told the court.

"Are you now prepared to admit you lied under oath?" Henein asked her during cross examination when she presented the emails. The witness said that what she said under oath was without her memory of the emails.

The witness said that, while the emails were flirtatious, they were an attempt to "bait" Ghomeshi into contacting her so that she could confront him about punching her in the head.


4. The trial’s judge blocked several media organizations from obtaining a photo the witness sent of herself in a bikini to Ghomeshi in the second email. The witness’ lawyer told the court that she believed the photo’s release would identify her.

Court Exhibit

Judge William Horkins ruled that he would keep the photo sealed. "It's my view you don't need to see it to get the picture," he said. "There is a serious societal interest in respecting this witness' privacy interest. It is important for complainants to know the courts will take seriously their role as a gatekeeper."

The request to unseal the photo came from the Toronto Star, CBC, CTV and Postmedia. Michael Cooke, the editor-in-chief of the Star, told BuzzFeed Canada their application was made in the interest of open courts.

"This photograph is an important piece of evidence that the judge will use to assess the witness's credibility," said Michael Cooke. "As such, there is a strong public interest in the public seeing what the judge has seen."

He added that the Star respects Judge Horkins' decision.

5. The second witness, Lucy DeCoutere, said Ghomeshi sexually assaulted her at his home the weekend of July 4, 2003.

Alexandra Newbould / THE CANADIAN PRESS

DeCoutere, the actress known for her role in Trailer Park Boys, said she met Ghomeshi at a June 2003 industry conference in Banff. They then exchanged friendly and humorous emails that included a joking reference to a "rusty trombone," a sexual slang term.

DeCoutere said weeks later she and Ghomeshi went for a dinner that had potentially romantic undertones. After walking back to his home, she said he gave her a tour of the house.

DeCoutere said they begin kissing suddenly outside of his bedroom closet. It's at this point that she said Ghomeshi choked her against a wall, and slapped her three times — twice in quick succession and once more shortly thereafter.

During the incident, DeCoutere said she noticed no change in his demeanor. He behaved like nothing happened. "It was like he was opening a can of tuna."

"It is impossible to consent to something that you are not asked," she told the court when she was later cross examined by Henein.

DeCoutere said that after she was choked and slapped by Ghomeshi, she tried to "normalize" the situation and stayed at his home for another hour. During this time, she said they kissed and listened to music he had recorded for an upcoming solo EP.

She told the court that, afterwards, she maintained contact with Ghomeshi. "I'm trying to make Mr. Ghomeshi less an assaulter, and more of a friend. Mr. Ghomeshi assaulted me, and afterwards I tried to neutralize it and make it a friendship,"

6. Ghomeshi’s defense presented surprise evidence, including a handwritten letter DeCoutere composed to him days after the alleged incident, in which she complimented him as "too sparkling" and used the signoff, “I love your hands.”

Court Exhibit

On July 9, 2003, DeCoutere wrote to Ghomeshi: "We hooked up for dinner and you totally knocked me out... I mean, really, what on Earth could be better than lying with you listening to music and having peace. Nothing."

"There's no untruth in this letter," DeCoutere told the court. "And the last line of it is me pointing love to the very thing that he used to hurt me."

Henein repeatedly referred to the letter as a "love letter" during cross examination, and said DeCoutere's suggestion that she was not interested in Ghomeshi romantically after the alleged incident wasn't true. DeCoutere said that was not the case.

"This message has an apologetic tone like I've done something wrong. And there's a tone to it that is almost placating somebody, which is definitely symptomatic of the kind of person I was when I was younger and to a degree now."

7. The defence also introduced an email DeCoutere wrote to Ghomeshi the day after she said he choked and slapped her, which ended, "You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brains out. Tonight."

Court Exhibit

"That doesn't change the fact that he assaulted me and I never gave consent to him," DeCoutere said.

“What happened was, there was no sexual assault," asserted Henein. "You had an evening and the next day you wanted to fuck his brains out.”


8. The defense tabled dozens of documents, including pictures of Ghomeshi and DeCoutere together shortly after the alleged incident, as well as emails sent between them in the years following her visit to his home.

Court Exhibit

In one email, DeCoutere wrote, "had a really great dream the other nite you were there with me in toronto."

"I'm in town and am gonna call your cellphone and ask you to play me with me," she wrote in another.

DeCoutere said she continued a platonic relationship with Ghomeshi, knowing they were in the same industry and that they would cross paths again.

"Women can be assaulted with someone and still have positive feelings afterwards, that's why there are emotionally abusive relationships that continue," DeCoutere told the court.

The defence did not question DeCoutere about when she said Ghomeshi choked and slapped her. "It is telling that the defense did not accuse her of dishonesty regarding the objective facts of the assault itself," her lawyer Gillian Hnatiw said in a statement outside the court.

9. The introduction of the surprise evidence by the defence during cross examination of both witnesses led some to question whether the Crown had been thorough in its trial preparation.

You know I'm now starting to seriously wonder whether the Crown did its due diligence in the #Ghomeshi trial.

Kevin Donovan, the Toronto Star reporter who broke the Ghomeshi story with Canadaland publisher Jesse Brown in the Star, called the crown and police into question.

"it does not seem that the crown or police did thier due diligence " @_kevindonovan on #Ghomeshi trial

However, the Crown prosecutors don't have access to the exhibits tabled by the defence until they are presented in court.

10. Multiple women noted that the intense questioning the witnesses were subject to shows why they, and other survivors of sexual violence, don’t report their offenders to police.

The live tweeting of the #Ghomeshi trial is a clear reminder of why I, like so many other survivors, do not report sexual violence.


In two short days every single reason I didn't report has been entirely validated.

Metro News columnist Rosemary Westwood noted the incredibly low number of sexual assaults that end in court proceedings and convictions.

The stats are incredible: only about 0.5 per cent of sex assaults result in court proceedings, only about 0.2 per cent end in convictions

The first witness’ lawyer, however, was supportive of the legal process, and noted his regard for Marie Henein.

Via Twitter: @jacobjesin

"This is the type of cross examination that is normal," said Jacob Jesin Tuesday, after his client's testimony ended. "It's important that anybody accusing anybody of a crime goes through this process and that we test the evidence.

"I have the utmost respect for Ms. Henein. She is excellent at what she does and I would hope that she would do no less."

The trial resumes Monday. One more witness is expected to testify that Ghomeshi sexually assaulted her.

Sean Craig is a reporter based in Toronto.

Contact Sean Craig at

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