A Toronto judge on Thursday has cleared Jian Ghomeshi of all charges in a sex assault trial that made headlines beyond Canada’s borders.
Justice William Horkins announced the not-guilty verdicts for the former Moxy Fruvous band member and CBC radio host at the Old City Hall courthouse. Judge Horkins concluded that inconsistencies and at times deception on the part of the complainants led him to doubt the credibility and reliability of their testimony.
“I find Mr. Ghomeshi not guilty on all of these charges,” he said. The inconsistencies were marked in what the complainants told the police in pre-trial evidence under oath, and what they eventually disclosed during the trial under cross examination, Horkins told the court when delivering his judgement.
“I have no hesitation in concluding that the quality of the evidence in this case is incapable of displacing the presumption of innocence. The evidence fails to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Horkins said in his judgement.
He added two of the complainants had conspired to “bring down Jian Ghomeshi” by coming forward with allegations.
Ghomeshi’s trial began on Feb. 1, 2016 — the five charges included four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
The judge-only trial saw Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, successfully undermine the credibility and reliability of three women, including Canadian actress Lucy DeCoutere, who alleged he sexually assaulted them.
The trial heard three witnesses allege the once-popular host of the CBC’s Q radio show slapped, punched and choked them during romantic dates.
But Judge Horkins concluded in his judgement that, with the court having to weigh Ghomeshi’s possible guilt from the testimony of witnesses, each of the three complainants had been “less than full and frank” in their statements to the media, the police and during the court trial.
Their testimony alleged incidents that mostly took place in 2002 and 2003. The judge said a “lack of precision” on the part of witnesses recounting events of more than a decade ago was to be expected.
But the court needs to be satisfied testimony is reliable, he added. “It’s difficult to have trust in a witness who engages in selectively withholding of information,” Judge Horkins said in his judgement.
Ghomeshi never took the stand in his own defense. As he was acquitted of all charges, the former broadcaster appeared to rock slowly back and forth in his chair with relief, before Ghomeshi rose to hug his mother and sister who had been sitting in the front row of the court.