Ghomeshi will plead not guilty to what is now seven sex assault charges, one of choking
Jian Ghomeshi is now facing a total of eight criminal charges, after three more women came forward to allege the former CBC radio star assaulted them.
Crown prosecutor Michael Callghan announced the three additional sexual assault charges on Thursday morning during a hearing at the College Park courthouse to set a trial date for Ghomeshi, who was first arrested in November. He was initially charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance – choking stemming from alleged incidents involving three women.
The names of all three of the new complainants are covered by a publication ban. The sexual assaults are alleged to have occurred between 2002 and 2008.
Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie Henein told the media he intends to plead not guilty on all counts.
The former host of the internationally syndicated radio show Q was not initially expected in court for what was anticipated to be a routine proceeding. But shortly before 10 am he entered the building, flanked by his two lawyers and wearing a dark pea coat, charcoal suit and dark tie. His lips pursed and jaw clenched, he said nothing to the reporters who swarmed around him as he boarded an elevator to the courtrooms upstairs.
Once inside, Ghomeshi sat silently and at times appeared to fidget as the new charges against him were announced. The proceedings barely lasted ten minutes, and he left the courthouse surrounded by a crush of reporters and cameramen.
Ghomeshi was released on $100,000 bail, the conditions of which remain unchanged from those set out in November, aside from the addition of the names of the three new complainants. He is to live with his mother, and is not allowed to leave the province, possess a weapon, or have contact with any of his alleged victims.
While the new charges came as a surprise, they were not wholly unexpected. At least nine women have spoken to media and alleged Ghomeshi either harassed them or became violent during sexual encounters, hitting, choking or otherwise assaulting them without their consent. Of the six women who have come forward to lay criminal charges, only Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy Decouture has consented to have her name published.
Ghomeshi’s next court date is February 4. Henein said he will not be present and his lawyers will appear on his behalf.
Meanwhile, the allegations against one of Canada’s most well-known media personalities continue to send aftershocks through the national broadcaster, which has been accused of ignoring longstanding rumours about the former host’s alleged mistreatment of women in order to protect its marquee talent.
The CBC has hired employment lawyer Janice Rubin to conduct an internal investigation, but even before her work is done the scandal has caused heads to roll. This week the CBC put two of its executives, head of radio Chris Boyce and human resources director Todd Spencer, on indefinite leaves of absence.
Boyce told the CBC investigative program the fifth estate that he and Spencer launched an internal investigation about Ghomeshi last summer, and interviewed Q employees about his behaviour. None of the Q staffers contacted by the fifth estate said executives spoke to them as part of the probe, however.
With files from Kate Robertson
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