Disgraced Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault trial is expected to wrap up today; CBC reports that his defense team has chosen not to put him on the stand. Nor will they call any other witnesses or present any evidence; the trial has focused entirely on the credibility of his accusers.
CBC reports that defense attorney Marie Henein won’t call Ghomeshi or anyone else to the stand, having spent the trial “aggressively challenging the credibility of the Crown’s witnesses,” the three women accusing Ghomeshi of assaults in 2002 and 2003. Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
As in the U.S., it’s always the choice of the defendant in the Canadian court system whether or not they choose to testify. The National Post spoke with a Toronto criminal defense attorney, John Erickson, who said the decision not to put Ghomeshi on the stand likely points to Henein feeling confident that she’s already raised enough reasonable doubt to convince the
jury judge to acquit him. (Correction: Ghomeshi’s case is being decided by a judge alone, not a jury.)
“[B]ased on what has transpired in court,” Erickson said, “It would be my estimation that it’s very difficult to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that what they say happened, happened. And if the court is left with a reasonable doubt, then the court has to acquit. Remember, for all we know, nothing happened.”
Heneien questioned all three witnesses about communications they had with Ghomeshi after their alleged assault. She asked actress Lucy DeCoutere why she sent Ghomeshi flowers after the weekend in which she says he choked and slapped her, and an email she sent the day after that read, in part, “You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brain out. Tonight.” She questioned another anonymous witness about a photo she sent Ghomeshi of herself in a bathing suit.
Erickson, the defense attorney interviewed by the Post, also accused the women of deliberately withholding information from the prosecution that would have complicated their stories or called them into question. He wasn’t quite that diplomatic about it:
People put a lot of effort into this trial, and for it to crash in flames like this is just astounding. I think the blame can only be on these complainants. So I can only say that these complainants deliberately, or very recklessly, withheld this information from the Crown and police. I mean these [women] are not simpletons. They wish for their mistakes to be seen as naïveté, or nobody asked me that question, well it sounds an awful lot like Bill Clinton and his problem.
A separate question being pondered by the Toronto Star is whether Ghomeshi’s “brand” can be redeemed, even if he is acquitted:
“Found guilty or not guilty, the ‘Ghomeshi brand’ is beyond salvation,” concludes Scott Reid, principal at communications firm Feschuk Reid. “Perhaps some marginal misguided men’s rights group will put his face on their flag. But in the real world, he will live forever under a dark cloud. Testifying would make that worse, not better.”
He pointed out that Ghomeshi would probably have to answer questions under cross-examination about the link he draws between violence and arousal, and his definition of “rough sex,” which could possibly damage his reputation even further.
“There would be scant hope of appearing as anything other than a miscreant,” he said.
Image via YouTube/CTV