The CBC fired Jian Ghomeshi after making a “moral judgment” about his habit of engaging in sexual practices that involve bondage, dominance and “sadism-masochism,” according to a statement of claim filed in court by the ousted national radio host.
Ghomeshi is seeking $55 million in damages from his former employer. He alleges he provided the CBC with information about his sexual proclivities and the that public broadcaster used it against him when he was stripped of his host job at the Q morning show on the weekend and barred from the building.
In firing him, Ghomeshi alleges in his lawsuit that the “CBC was making a moral judgment about the appropriateness of BDSM.”
CBC spokesman Jeff Keay told the Star the corporation intends to “contest this matter vigorously.”
BDSM is an acronym for a series of sexual practices: bondage-discipline, dominant-submissive and sadism-masochism. According to Ghomeshi’s statement, he says he practises this with partners and it is always “consensual.”
A Toronto Star investigation this summer unearthed a series of allegations involving Ghomeshi and four women, all in their mid-20s. Three allege he punched and choked them without warning and without consent. A fourth, a former CBC employee, alleges he came up behind her in the workplace and grabbed her buttocks and on a separate occasion told her “I want to hate f--- you.”
The Star approached Ghomeshi this summer and later in September regarding the allegations about his conduct. Ghomeshi denied any wrongdoing.
On Sunday, CBC announced Ghomeshi’s employment was terminated. Ghomeshi quickly followed that announcement with the threat of a lawsuit, which was officially launched with the filing of legal papers Monday afternoon.
Those papers show Ghomeshi’s take on what happened over the past six months.
Ghomeshi’s claim begins with a statement that he “was instrumental in revolutionizing the face of the CBC as the co-creator and host of Q .” The arts and pop culture show featured celebrities and other prominent international figures, he states. Included in the list are Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Al Gore and Jon Stewart.
In his claim, Ghomeshi said he became aware last spring that “certain reporters” were pursuing allegations that he “engaged in non-consensual sex and physically abused his partners.” He states he believes a jilted lover is at the heart of these allegations.
Ghomeshi’s claim states he went to two top CBC executives — public relations chief Chuck Thompson and executive director of radio Chris Boyce — and alerted them to the “threat of the public release of a fabricated story about his private life.” His claim does not say when he did this.
Over the next few months, Ghomeshi said he provided a wealth of information to the two CBC executives, “including details of his sexual relationships.” His claim states CBC executives helped him draft press releases that would be issued on his behalf if the need arose.
Right up until just a few days before his firing, Ghomeshi said CBC executives assured him they had conducted their own “internal investigation” and were “satisfied that the allegations of lack of consent were false.”
Ghomeshi’s claim states he provided information related to his relationship with a woman he has described as a former lover, who he insists was spreading lies about their relationship.
Then something changed on the weekend.
Ghomeshi said the CBC advised him on the weekend that it was no longer concerned whether his “sex practices” were consensual. Instead, he alleges CBC was firing him out of “concern about the possible negative public perception, should the fact that (Ghomeshi) engaged in BDSM become public.”
His claim calls this an “antiquated perspective” because “engaging in BDSM is part of the normal continuum of human sexual behaviours.”
In his claim, Ghomeshi said he is suing CBC because it “violated the confidence” between the two parties that, he said, was part of a shared desire to prevent publication of “false allegations.”
Ghomeshi states that as soon as he was fired he was told a simple statement would be issued advising the public of the termination, noting his “immense contribution” to the CBC and wishing him well. That statement was issued but, according to the claim, the CBC’s Thompson then told inquiring reporters the following:
“Information came to our attention recently that in CBC’s judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi,” Thompson’s statement read.
Ghomeshi’s claim alleges that statement is “defamatory” and “has lowered Mr. Ghomeshi’s reputation in the public.”
Reached for comment, Thompson said he could not provide an interview because he is named in the lawsuit. Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the CBC, said the corporation cannot comment on specific allegations because they are now part of a court matter.