Jian Ghomeshi was dumped by Navigator, the high-profile crisis management firm retained to protect his public image, because the company believed Ghomeshi lied to them, sources have told the Star.
“He lied to the firm,” said a source with knowledge of the situation.
According to the sources, until late Sunday night, Navigator was “buying (Ghomeshi’s) story” that it was a jilted ex-girlfriend who had manufactured lies that Ghomeshi was abusive. One source said the former CBC radio star had convinced the firm that there were no other allegations and there was nothing to be “concerned” about.
Then, as the Toronto Star reported between Monday and Thursday that at least eight women were making serious allegations of assault or sexual harassment against Ghomeshi, the firm decided at a series of meetings that it could not represent someone who, in their opinion, had lied.
News that Navigator, as well as publicity firm Rock-it Promotions, was parting company with Ghomeshi came Thursday, the same day a ninth woman went public with her allegations.
The Star was not able to determine if Rock-it dropped Ghomeshi for the same reason. A source with knowledge of the Rock-it situation said that the firm, which had been with Ghomeshi for two years (Navigator was a recent hire) was disappointed as more and more allegations surfaced.
“Here was a guy (Rock-it) believed in, and it didn’t turn out that way,” a source told the Star.
Both companies issued releases Thursday afternoon announcing they had cut ties with Ghomeshi, but neither said why.
Generally, firms that do public relations or crisis communications work ask that the client disclose all relevant information so that they can manage difficult situations with full knowledge of all details.
The Star’s stories revealed much more information than the firms or CBC were aware of. The stories included allegations of sexual harassment of two CBC employees and allegations of beating, choking and in some cases biting by six women Ghomeshi met over the past decade, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere. The Star is continuing to investigate allegations from more women.
Ghomeshi, who was fired by the CBC on Sunday, wrote in a brief statement on his Facebook page on Thursday: “I intend to meet these allegations directly.”
Rock-it has been with Ghomeshi since at least 2012, when it helped him promote his high school memoir, 1982. Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, a principal of Rock-it, was running interference for Ghomeshi this summer when the Star was asking about allegations of abusive conduct by him toward women, sources say.
Goldblatt-Sadowski and her team were working with two lawyers from Dentons LLP in Toronto, the firm that has launched Ghomeshi’s $55-million defamation suit against the CBC. Dentons did not answer a request for comment from the Star on Thursday.
“Going forward, Rock-it Promotions will no longer be representing Jian Ghomeshi,” said a statement from the firm, a relatively small agency whose association with Ghomeshi had helped it grow over the years. Rock-it did not respond to questions from the Star.
Navigator is a firm known for helping high-profile individuals and companies perform damage control at difficult times. Navigator issued a statement Thursday saying “the circumstances of our engagement have changed and we are no longer able to continue.” Officials say they have a policy preventing them from discussing current or former clients.
The news comes as a second woman with allegations of violence against Ghomeshi publicly identified herself.
In a piece for the Huffington Post Canada, titled “Why I Can’t Remain Silent About What Jian Did to Me,” lawyer and author Reva Seth wrote about an incident more than 10 years ago when Ghomeshi was the host of CBC television show Play. She alleges that after a dinner date, Ghomeshi grabbed her by the throat, pulled down her pants and violently penetrated her with his fingers.
“My sexual interactions until then had always been consensual, enjoyable and fun,” she wrote. “I remember he gave me some weird lines about how he couldn’t tell if I was actually attracted to him or not, and somehow this was meant to explain his behaviour … He acted like it was all totally normal and came to the door to watch me go down the stairs and get into the cab.”
Seth wrote that one of the reasons she decided to come forward was that she feels Ghomeshi has a “pattern that has certainly escalated since I knew him.”
According to the Huffington Post piece, Seth first met Ghomeshi at a Loblaws on the Danforth in 2002, when she was 26, and agreed to go for dinner with him a few days later. She wrote that they hung out a few times over the summer, never doing much more physically than kissing.
The incident Seth described happened on a Sunday night, she wrote, after the two had a drink and smoked some pot. Seth wrote that Ghomeshi became “super angry, almost frenzied and disassociated.”
She didn’t do anything after the alleged attack because “it didn’t seem like there was anything to do,” she wrote, noting she was sharing her story now in the hopes that it will help others.
There is currently no police investigation into the allegations against Ghomeshi because no one has complained, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair told reporters Thursday.
“When these crimes are committed, we need a complainant,” said Blair. “We need someone to come forward and say, ‘This is what’s happened to me,’ and we will investigate that and we will do that as quickly and compassionately as we possibly can.”
On Thursday, Ghomeshi’s profile vanished from the websites of two Canadian speakers bureaus, Keynote Speakers Canada and Speakers’ Spotlight. A cached version of the Keynote Speakers profile says: “Known for his charm, wit and sense of humour, Jian Ghomeshi is a renaissance man for the 21st century . . .
“He tailors his talks to the audience, environment and objectives of your event and blends opinions and ideas with storytelling, personal anecdotes and lessons learned from experiences throughout his life.”
Topics Ghomeshi would touch on at an event, according to Keynote Speakers, include rethinking the Canadian identity and art, activism and media.
A cached version of the Speakers’ Spotlight website notes: “As warm and witty as he is sharp and serious, Ghomeshi brings class and craftsmanship to each and every engagement, whether he’s delivering a cultural keynote, hosting an event, or interviewing a person or panel of people.”
Neither Keynote Speakers nor Speakers’ Spotlight immediately returned requests for comment. As of Thursday evening, Ghomeshi was still featured on the website for All-American Speakers Bureau in the U.S.
Ghomeshi, who has already been dropped from hosting the Giller Prize literary awards on Nov. 10, cancelled late Wednesday afternoon a speaking engagement about arts and culture that he was set to deliver on Nov. 7 in Prince George, B.C., hosted by a local newspaper.
- With files from Wendy Gillis