CBC Star Jian Ghomeshi Charged With Sexual Assault & Choking
Following a slew of sexual and physical violence allegations that led to his termination from the CBC, former radio host Jian Ghomeshi was charged with sexual assault on Wednesday. The fallen radio star was charged on five counts — four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance-choking. According to Toronto Police, Ghomeshi turned himself in to the authorities, nearly a month after the disturbing allegations broke.
Ghomeshi was released on bail Wednesday afternoon, when he reportedly returned to his mother's house to live. His lawyer, Marie Henein, didn't have many words for reporters outside the courtroom on Wednesday. "It is not my practice to litigate my cases in the media," Henein said.
Meanwhile, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters that any other sexual abuse victims should come forward to the authorities. "I want to offer them my assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect," Blair said.
The CBC fired the 47-year-old radio host on Oct. 26, two days after the company announced Ghomeshi would be taking an unexplained leave of absence. CBC officials were initially vague about the details of Ghomeshi's sudden termination, saying in a statement at the time: "This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration."
Later that same day, Ghomeshi posted a long, detailed message on Facebook explaining that he was under attack by a "jilted" ex-girlfriend and a "freelance writer" conducting a "smear campaign" against him. Ghomeshi said he knew he was going to be hit with sexual assault accusations, but wanted to explain himself and what he described as a "rough sex" situation:
I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners. ... We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of “Fifty Shades of Grey” or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year.
Ghomeshi's story was blown open when The Toronto Star published an investigative piece with accounts from three women who alleged they were either physically or sexually assaulted by Ghomeshi during sexual encounters. Soon after the story was published, Ghomeshi launched a $50-million lawsuit against the CBC, which he later dropped. He also said this week that he'll compensate the CBC for its legal fees.
Toronto police launched an investigation on Oct. 31, after several more women, including Canadian TV actress Lucy DeCoutere, came forward with formal sexual assault complaints.
DeCoutere released a statement on Wednesday:
The past month has seen a major shift in the conversation about violence against women. It has been an overwhelming and painful time for many people, including myself, but also very inspiring. I hope that victims' voices continue to be heard and that this is the start of a change that is so desperately needed.
Although he surrendered to police, Ghomeshi recently issued a statement denying the sexual assault allegations. He claims all his sexual and physical encounters were consensual.
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