Wednesday 18 May 2016

The downfall of a famous radio show host: Ghomeshi (part 2)

If you read my article that I put in my blog on May 16th 2016 about this man, you will know that he was a very popular radio host of a CBC radio show called Q. The big wigs in CBC saw a picture of a woman who had been severely beaten by Ghomeshi. As a result of what they saw, Ghomeshi was fired. It wasn’t long before other women began complaining about Ghomeshi physically assaulting them also. Then in 2016, he was facing these women in a criminal court. In the article that I published on May 16th, I wrote about what the trial judge had to say in his decision about one of the complainants with respect to her testimony. If you haven’t read the first article I wrote about this man and the complainants. I urge you to do so before you begin reading this article. Now I will tell you about the second witness testifying against Ghomeshi.

When I am quoting the trial judge, I will encompass his statements with quotation marks followed by the word Unquote.  The other statements will be my own commentary. And now my dear readers; sit back and enjoy this article as I tell you about the second complainant and what the judge had to say about  her testimony.

The complaint of Lucy Decoutere

Lucy said that she was choked and sexually assaulted in 2003. She came forward publically with her allegations at the time of the intense publicity surrounding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC’s) dismissal of Ghomeshi in 2014. 

Lucy first met Ghomeshi at the Banff Film Festival in June of 2003. They enjoyed each other's company. She found Ghomeshi playful and flirtatious, and came away thinking he would be fun to be with. They stayed in touch and planned to get together in Toronto over the upcoming Canada Day (July 1st) long-weekend. She traveled from her home in Halifax to visit with Ghomeshi as well as other friends living in Toronto.  

Early in her weekend visit, Lucy and Ghomeshi went out for dinner. They enjoyed some pleasant conversation. He told her he would like to go back to his place and listen to some music and just hold her. She thought that this was “cheesy and a “put on.” After dinner they did go back to his home, a short walk from the restaurant.  Along the way he made a move to kiss her. She thought the attempt seemed awkward. I think she meant the manner in which he made the attempt to kiss her.

Ghomeshi gave Lucy a tour of his house. She was impressed with how organized and well-kept it was. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, he kissed her. Ms. DeCoutere described how Mr. Ghomeshi put his hand onto her throat and pushed her forcefully to the wall, choking her and slapping her in the face. She was shocked, surprised and bewildered. She tried to remain calm and act as if nothing unusual had happened. She stayed a while longer. They listened to music and he played his guitar. Then, with a kiss good night, she left.

Over the course of the weekend Lucy and Ghomeshi attended several social events together. She thought that the previous assault might have been a mistake or a “one off” of some sort. She internalized it. On one occasion, she returned briefly to his home. She recalls accidentally stepping on his glasses and that this upset him. She reports that he had become moody but there were no further acts of violence. Lucy firmly stated that after this weekend that she had no further intention of having any sort of ongoing personal relationship with Ghomesh. That was a wise decision but like many decisions, they often crumble like a cookie in a child’s hand.                  

In October of 2003, their paths crossed at the Gemini Awards dinner in Toronto. The television series in which she was a cast member was nominated. Mr. Ghomeshi came to her table, chatted and at one point reached out and touched her neck. Lucy interpreted this touch to the neck as an unsettling reminder of the July assault.  

In June 2004, both Lucy and Ghomeshi attended the Banff Film Festival and they spent time together there.  Do you see the cookie crumbles I spoke of earlier  on the floor”  

At a karaoke event at the Banff Springs Hotel, Lucy was on the stage singing the Britney Spears’ song “Hit Me Baby One More Time”.  WOW!  Was that choice of a song an indirect hint that she wanted Ghomeshi to hit her again? In any case, Ghomeshi joined her in a duet. She characterized the performance as “hilarious”.

After the 2004 Banff Film Festival they met occasionally at industry events. When being interviewed about their history together prior to 2014, Lucy acknowledged that there were probably more social meetings and dinners, the details of which she could not recall. She referred to these meetings as “inconsequential”.

Lucy did not report theassault in 2003 because she thought that the incident was not serious enough. She said that she thought you had to be “beaten to pieces,  broken and raped” before going to the police. 

Lucy came forward publically with her complaint in 2014, after she heard of Ghomeshi being terminated by the CBC. She said that her plan was to take her experience to the press. She came to Toronto and gave numerous media interviews. She said that she was not interested in legal action being taken against Ghomeshi. She only went to the police because they had asked for anyone with information to speak to them.   

In all fairness to Lucy, she didn’t come forward simply because she learned that Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC. At that time the media knew that he had been fired because he physically assaulted a woman.          

 Just prior to Lucy being called as a witness, she met with the Crown (prosecutor) and the police and revealed a significant amount of new information to the prosecution. This last minute disclosure of information occurred despite having the assistance of her own counsel throughout the many months leading up to the trial and despite her acknowledgment that a line of communication with the investigating officers and Crown counsel was well-established throughout this period of time.

Lucy insisted that her late disclosure was spontaneous and she denied being aware that the previous witness, L.R., had been confronted with embarrassing emails from 2004. Lucy insisted that her reason for coming forward with new information on February 2, 2016, was that she did not understand the “importance” or “impact” of the information until then.

During the cross-examination of Linda, she confirmed that she did not mention in her sworn police interview, or in any of her 19 reported media interviews, that Ghomeshi had attempted to kiss her during their walk to his home; that they kissed on the couch after the alleged assault; that they kissed goodnight when she left his home that evening. None of that was disclosed prior to the trial.

Lucy made a previous blunder when she was inyterviewed by the police.  When asked directly by Detective Ansari in her police interview what she and Mr. Ghomeshi did in the time between the alleged assault and her departure from his home, she simply said “nothing stuck” in her memory. Trying to explain this inconsistency, she testified that she did not think kissing with her assailant after the alleged assault was very “consequential”.

It is very significant. It could imply that she was not really alarmed by the brief assault she got from Ghomeshi. The judge in making his decision made an interesting obervation hat will immediately follow this paragraph.

“It is difficult for me to believe that someone who was choked as part of a sexual assault, would consider kissing sessions with the assailant both before and after the assault not worth mentioning when reporting the matter to the police. I can understand being reluctant to mention it, but I do not understand her thinking that it was not relevant.” Unquote

It is my opinion that she probably thought that had she mentoned the kissing on her part, it would reduce the impact of her statement that she was also assaulted that night. The judge also made this observation in his decision.

“Ms. DeCoutere remembered and reported minute details of their date: what Mr. Ghomeshi ordered at the restaurant; how he organized his shirts; that the temperature of his house was perfect; and that fresh flowers were on the table. All this was memorable and remarkable, yet she claimed to have left out the kissing and the cuddling because she thought brevity and succinctness were important. I do not accept this as a credible explanation.” Unquote

Lucy repeatedly stated in court that Ghomeshi’s suggestion about lying down together and listening to music was creepy, cheesy or otherwise unappealing. It made her instantly uncomfortable. However, five days later, when she penned him a “love letter”, she wrote, “What on earth could be better than lying with you, listening to music and having peace?”

That letter makes it very clear to me that she was sucking up to Ghomeshi because she obviously wanted their relationship to exand despite the fact that he had previously suddenly and unexpectanty put his hand onto her throat and pushed her forcefully to the wall, choking her and slapping her in the face.

If it was her opinion that his assault against her was bad enough to report that event to the police, then why had she attempted to renew the relationship with Ghomeshi? 

 Linda told the police, under oath, that her recollection of the events that took place at Mr. Ghomeshi’s house was “all jumbled”. She told them that at a certain point she and Mr. Ghomeshi started kissing but, “I don’t remember the order of events.” She was not sure whether the choking or the slapping came first. However, when she spoke to the Toronto Star a few days prior to her police interview, she said that it was choking and then slapping. When she spoke to the CTV, (television station)  she was not sure about the order. At trial, for the first time, she gave a clear and specific sequence of events: a push up against the wall; two slaps; a pause, and then another slap. She acknowledged in cross-examination that this was, again, another new or different version of the events.

If you read my previous article, I suggested that if you are a participant of a violent event  or a witness to such an event, write down the facts as soon as possible so that what you saw and heard are not lost in your memory. This is what this silly woman ddn’t do and it later began to haunt her. The judge noticed this flaw and said in his decision;
“An inability to recall the sequence of such a traumatic event from over a decade ago is not very surprising and in most instances, it would be of little concern. However, what is troubling about this evidence is not the lack of clarity but, rather, the shifting of facts from one telling of the incident to the next. Each differing version of the events was put forward by this witness as a sincere and accurate recollection. When a witness is comfortable with giving differing versions of the same event, it suggests a degree of carelessness with the truth that diminishes the general reliability of the witness.” Unquote

  Lucy swore to the police that after the alleged assault in 2003. she only saw Mr. Ghomeshi “in passing”. She was polite to him, only because she did not want to jeopardize her future professional prospects. She “didn’t pursue any kind of relationship” with him. She wasyold directly by the police interviewers to tell them everything about her relationship with Ghomeshi, before and after the alleged assault.  The judge in his decision made the following observation;

 It became clear at trial that Ms. DeCoutere very deliberately chose not to be completely honest with the police. Her statement to the police was what initiated these proceedings. This statement was subject to a formal caution concerning the potential criminal consequences of making a false statement. It was given under oath, an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, not a selective version of the truth. Despite this formal caution and oath, Ms. DeCoutere proceeded to consciously suppress relevant and material information. This reflects very negatively on her general reliability and credibility as a witness. It indicates a failure to take the oath seriously and a wilful carelessness with the truth.” Unquote

Richard Whatley had this to say about truth. “Everyone wishes to have truth on his side but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth.”

A further formal, sworn police statement was taken from Lucy and then disclosed to the defence by the prosecutor. This new statement disclosed for the first time pointed out the fact that she sent flowers to Ghomeshi days after the alleged choking. It also disclosed for the first time that she and Ghomeshi spent a considerable amount of time together in Banff in 2004. She also acknowledged that there were additional emails between them. All of this was deliberately withheld by Lucy up until the trial was under way. The judge in his decision said;

  I do not accept that Ms. DeCoutere could have sincerely thought that all this was inconsequential and of no interest to the prosecution. She may have been afraid to disclose this information. She may have been embarrassed to disclose this information. These would not be unreasonable feelings; but to say that she decided not to disclose.this information because she thought it was of no importance,  is just not credible. To make matters worse, when given this last minute opportunity to make full disclosure, she still failed to do so” Unquote 

It is my personal opinion that the reason whyu she didn’t pass that information onto the prosecutor is that she knew it would be an embarrassing disclosure that would suggest that she wasn’t really that concerned about what Ghomeshi had done to her in the past  but rather was more intertested in what he could do for her career in the future. 

   In an effort to explain to the Court her continued socializing with Mr. Ghomeshi following the alleged choking incident and over the rest of the 2003 Canada Day weekend, Ms. DeCoutere testified that she wanted to “normalize” the situation and “flatten the negative”, and to not make him feel like a bad host. So, she stuck with their plans and she continued to see him over the weekend.  She testified that she kept her distance and certainly did not do anything intimate with him. Having firmly committed herself to this position, she was then confronted with a photograph of herself cuddling affectionately in the park with Mr. Ghomeshi the very next day. The judge commented on the non disclosure of that information;

“She attempted to explain the last minute timing of this disclosure as being the “first chance” that she felt she had to tell anyone. I find this explanation unconvincing coming from a witness who had been interviewed dozens of times prior to trial, had established a continual flow of email correspondence with the investigating police, and who had her own lawyer involved in the case for a year and a half leading up to the trial. If she truly intended to provide this information, she had ample means and opportunity to do so.” Unquote

“After the 2004 Banff festival, Ms. DeCoutere sent Mr. Ghomeshi a photograph of their Banff Springs “Hit Me Baby One More Time” karaoke performance with the caption “proof that you can’t live without me.” When confronted in cross-examination with this photograph and the “playful” caption, her explanation was that this was part of an effort to make Mr. Ghomeshi “less of an assaulter and more of a friend.” This explanation lacks credibility when combined with the further details brought out in cross-examination about the Banff 2004 visit.” Unquote

In advance of going to Banff, Ms. DeCoutere emailed Mr. Ghomeshi and told him that she wanted to “play” with him when they were in Banff. She suggested that maybe they would have a “chance encounter in the broom closet.” The response from Mr. Ghomeshi was expressly non-committal, “I’d love to hang but can’t promise much.”

Here was a woman who was physicaly assualted by a man who while they  were kissing, suddenly grabbed a hold of her long hair and yanked it  really, really hard and which she described the yank to her hair as painful.  And now she wanted to do something more sexual in nature in a broom closet? Give me a break. This woman is really werid. No wonder Ghomeshi was non-committal.

Lucy  emailed back to Ghomeshi saying she was going to “beat the crap” out of him if they didn’t hang out together in Banff and that she would like to “tap him on the shoulder for breakfast.” This correspondence paints a suggestive picture. It reads as if Lucy was  clearly pursuing Ghomeshi. The judge commented on that fact;

 Ms. DeCoutere emailed back to Mr. Ghomeshi saying she was going to “beat the crap” out of him if they didn’t hang out together in Banff and that she would like to “tap him on the shoulder for breakfast.” This correspondence paints a suggestive picture. It reads as if Ms. DeCoutere was, at that point in time, clearly pursuing Mr. Ghomeshi with an interest in spending more time together.” Unquote

“A natural assumption might be that what was actually stopping Ms. DeCoutere from sharing all of this undisclosed information, was the fear that to some audiences this post-event socializing would reflect badly on her claims that this man had in fact assaulted her.  Had she genuinely feared that this sort of thinking would unfairly undermine her credibility, that concern might have been an explanation worth giving careful consideration. However she offered an entirely different explanation for supressing this information.  Ms. DeCoutere said her plan was to disclose all of these things once the trial began. She said that she had always intended to reveal this information but thought that the trial would be her first chance to do so. That explanation seems unreasonable to me. Ms. DeCoutere had literally dozens of pre-trial opportunities to provide the full picture to the authorities. I suspect the truth is she simply thought that she might get away with not mentioning it.” Unquote

 “ Another item in the new disclosure statement was the information that Ms. DeCoutere sent flowers to Mr. Ghomeshi following the Canada Day weekend in Toronto. Within days of when she says she was choked by Mr. Ghomeshi, she sent him flowers to thank him for being such a good host. Sending thank you flowers to the man who had just choked you, may seem like odd behaviour. I acknowledge that this might be part of her effort, as she said, to normalize the situation. However, whether or not this behaviour should be considered unusual or not, this was very clearly relevant and material information in the context of a sexual assault allegation. The deliberate withholding of the information reflects very poorly on Ms. DeCoutere’s trustworthiness as a witness.” Unquote

Lucy testified that after the weekend in Toronto in July 2003, she definitely knew that she did not want to have a romantic relationship with Ghomeshi. She gave the court her “guarantee” under oath that she had no romantic feelings for Ghomeshi. Even in her late disclosure, just prior to taking the stand, she claimed that any personal contact with Ghomeshi following the Canada Day long-weekend in 2003 was simply an attempt to "flatten out her negative." She maintained that any emails that she sent to Ghomeshi following that weekend were "indifferent" in tone and not "playful", as they had been previously. In the judge’s decision, he wrote;

 “I find as a fact that Ms. DeCoutere attempted to mislead the Court about her continued relationship with Mr. Ghomeshi. It was only during cross-examination that her expressed interest in a continuing close relationship was revealed. Once again this was simply not true. In an email sent just two weeks later, on July 17, 2003, Ms. DeCoutere told Mr. Ghomeshi that he was “magic”. On July 25, 2003, three weeks after the alleged assault, she wrote to Mr. Ghomeshi that she was “really glad to know you”.  On April 6, 2004, she wrote an email to Mr. Ghomeshi suggesting help with “an itch that you need… scratching”. On October 19, 2005, she sent him what she described herself as a “ridiculous, sexualized photo” of herself with the neck of a beer bottle in her mouth simulating an act of fellatio. As recently as September 8, 2010, she posted a Facebook message fondly recalling the 2003 Canada Day weekend.” Unquote

“On July 5th 2003, within twenty-four hours of the alleged choking incident, Ms. DeCoutere emailed Mr. Ghomeshi with the message: ‘Getting to know you is literally changing my mind, in a good way. You challenge me and point to stuff that has not been pulled out in a very long time. I can tell you about that sometime and everything about our friendship [that] so far will make sense. You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brains out, tonight.’  There is not a trace of animosity, regret or offence taken, in that message.” Unquote

Lucy’s attempt to explain this correspondence with Ghomeshi as an effort at “flattening the negative” or normalizing her relationship with Ghomeshi is blatently dubious. Her statements in court certainly was an illustration of Lucy’s phony feelings toward Ghomeshi, evidenced by her own written expressions. Her behaviour towards Ghomeshi was out of harmony with her evidence in-chief and her multiple pre-trial statements to the media and to the police with respect to Ghomeshi’s assault against her.  The judge in his written decision said;

“In the framework of a credibility analysis in a criminal trial, Ms. DeCoutere’s attempt to hide this information evidences a manipulative course of conduct. This raises additional and mounting concerns regarding her reliability as a witness.”  Unquote

 In trying to reconcile Lucy’s apparent inconsistent rambling between her evidence and some of the established facts presented in court, another more subtle but related concern must be identified. It may be entirely natural for a victim of abuse to become involved in an advocacy group or even fall in love with the abuser however, the manner in which Lucy embraced and cultivated her role as an advocate for the cause of victims of sexual violence, was at odds with her feelings towards her abuser that was evidenced by her questionable conduct as a witness in those court proceedings.

On December 9, 2014, she told S.D,(another woman abused by Ghomeshi)  that she, Lucy, the professional actor, was excited for the trial because it was going to be “…theatre at its best. Dude, with my background I literally feel like I was prepped to take this on, no shit. [A] trial does not freak me out.  I invite the media shit.” I hope she revels in wallowing in my blog.

 Lucy engaged the services of a publicist for her involvement in this case. She gave 19 media interviews and received massive attention for her role in this case. Hashtag “ibelievelucy” became very popular on Twitter and she was very excited when the actor Mia Farrow tweeted support and joined what Lucy referred to as the “team”. In an interview with CTV news, she even analogized her role in this whole matter to David Beckham’s role as a spokesperson with Armani.

It’s my opinion that Lucy looked on the assault she got from Ghomeshi as a lucky break for her because she could now milk it for what it was worth. It would put her in the limelight, which her role in the TV show in which she played a part in didn’t. Unfortunately, the limelight she is now in is showing her up as a silly, immature fool who will use any means to get ahead in her profession as an actress.

In her email correspondence with one of the other complainants that was exchanged after the charges were laid, Ms. Lucy expressed strong animosity towards Ghomeshi. She said she wanted to see that Ghomeshi was "fucking decimated" and stated, "the guy's a shit show, time to flush"; and then very bluntly just, "Fuck Ghomesh.i" The judge wrote in his decision;

  “All of the extreme animosity expressed since going public with her complaint in 2014 stands in stark contrast to the flirtatious correspondence and interactions of 2003 and 2004, words and actions that are preserved in the emails and photographs she says she forgot about.” Unquote
Let me emphasize strongly, it is the suppression of evidence and the deceptions maintained under oath that drives my concerns with the reliability of this witness [and] not necessarily her undetermined motivations for doing so. It is difficult to have trust in a witness who engages in the selective withholding relevant information.” Unquote

The Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Kehler a 2004 decision made this following statement in the headnote.

“Triers of fact will not lightly accept unsupported assertions by a disreputable witness where nothing but his or her word implicates the accused in the commission of the crime charged. Where a particular risk attaches to one critical element of that evidence, the trier of fact must be satisfied that the witness’s potentially unreliable evidence can be relied upon as truthful in that regard.  Having considered the totality of the evidence, the trier of fact is entitled to believe the evidence of the disreputable witness— even on disputed facts that are not otherwise confirmed — if the trier is satisfied that the witness, despite his or her shortcomings, is truthful.    

With respect to the thruthfulness in the testimony of Lucy, Mr. Justice William B. Horkins  said and I will  quote him again;  
“The deliberate withholding of the information reflects very poorly on Ms. DeCoutere’s trustworthiness as a witness.” Unquote

“In the framework of a credibility analysis in a criminal trial, Ms. DeCoutere’s attempt to hide this information evidences a manipulative course of conduct. This raises additional and mounting concerns regarding her reliability as a witness.” Unquote

“It is difficult to have trust in a witness who engages in the selective withholding relevant information.” Unquote

If  a fault was defined as a pimple, you would think that Ms. DeCoutere was  suffering from measles.

In Part 3, I will tell you about a third witness call S.D. 

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