TORONTO – Two of Jian Ghomeshi’s accusers discussed their allegations of sexual assault against the former broadcaster in thousands of messages they exchanged before and after they went to police, with one of them acknowledging Monday that she deliberately misled the investigation by withholding information.
A woman, who testified that the one-time CBC star bit her shoulder and put his hands around her neck as they were making out in a Toronto park, initially said that while she was friends with another complainant, they never discussed the specifics of the allegations.
But during cross-examination, Ghomeshi’s lawyer said that the woman, who can not be identified, exchanged 5,000 messages with “Trailer Park Boys” actress Lucy DeCoutere, who testified last week that the former radio host choked her and repeatedly slapped her while they were kissing in his house.
The woman also said she didn’t tell police that she’d had a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault because she was embarrassed.
“Do you accept that you were being deliberately misleading?” asked Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein.
“Yes,” the woman replied.
Henein told court the two women began exchanging messages on Oct. 29, 2014 _ the same day DeCoutere went public with her allegations _ and continued until September 2015.
Henein then began quoting snippets of conversations between the two women, explaining that in the lead-up to the trial, the woman would “report in” to DeCoutere after any significant exchange with detectives or the Crown.
The lawyer also noted that DeCoutere urged the woman to use her own lawyer and publicist.
“You now accept that you did, in fact, talk about the specific allegations,” Henein demanded after peppering the woman with questions.
“I did,” the woman replied.
“The other thing you talk about with Ms. DeCoutere is how much you hate Mr. Ghomeshi,” Henein continued, quoting messages in which the woman says to DeCoutere that she wants Ghomeshi to “pay” for what he’s done and others in which she says she hopes Ghomeshi gets fat and loses his hair.
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The woman later explained that she became “instant friends” with DeCoutere because they had a shared bond.
“We had a support system in common. Something that happened to both of us with somebody,” she said. “It came very naturally.”
Earlier on Monday, the woman testified that Ghomeshi had surprised her when he put his hands around her neck while they were “making out.”
The woman, who was 32 years old at the time, said she had consented to the kissing, but she had not agreed to what followed.
“He was kissing my neck and I just felt all of a sudden I felt his hand on my shoulders and his teeth. And then his hands were around my neck and he was squeezing,” she said in a trembling voice.
“Some kind of switch felt like it had happened. It wasn’t the same person there. I tried to get out of it and then his hand was on my mouth, sort of smothering me.”
(Video: Ryerson’s Sexual Violence expert Farrah Khan explains the complicated relationships victims often have with their abuser. To view on mobile, click here)
The woman said the alleged incident happened shortly after they first met at a dance festival in Toronto. During that event, she said, Ghomeshi came up behind her and rested his arms on her shoulders. When asked by someone how they knew each other, she said Ghomeshi replied “We’re engaged.”
“We weren’t,” the woman told court on Monday.
The trial heard that days after the alleged assault in the park, the woman went out for drinks with Ghomeshi, and then they went back to her home where she pleasured him with her hand.
The woman admitted that she only told police last week about her “consensual” sexual act with Ghomeshi because she was embarrassed and didn’t initially think it was relevant.
Henein, however, accused her of lying.
“It was not a lie, it was an omission,” the woman said firmly. “It’s an embarrassing thing to say.”
The trial heard that the woman’s dates with Ghomeshi ended after they got into an argument following a party where he kept berating her best friend _ an incident which set off “warning bells” for her.
“I got out of the car, slammed the door, told him he was crazy, told him to never call me again,” she said.
The woman said she didn’t go to police with her allegations in 2003 because she wanted to put the incident behind her.
“I just wanted it gone. I wasn’t sure that there was anything to go on,” she said, adding that she also didn’t want to jeopardize the career of her brother, who was in the arts industry.
“I didn’t want to be the hysterical sister…I thought if I just keep myself out of the line of fire then it’s probably best for everybody.”
The 48-year-old former CBC Radio star 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 acts, but said it was consensual.