The Crown has dropped two sex assault charges against Jian Ghomeshi, leaving the disgraced former CBC Radio host to stand trial on five charges of sex assault and one charge of choking.
Crown prosecutor Mike Callaghan told the court there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on the two dropped charges, and that he has spoken to the two complainants involved.
One for the dropped sexual assault incidents was alleged to have occurred at the Owen Sound Summerfolk music festival in August 2002.
The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, told the Star in a previous interview that Ghomeshi kissed her, squeezed her neck, slapped her and roughly forced his fingers into her mouth while in his hotel room.
The other sexual assault charged dropped was alleged to have occurred in May 2003 in Toronto.
The remaining charges are lined to alleged incidents between in 2002, 2003 and 2008, involving four women including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere.
Ghomeshi, 47, will face trial before a judge at Old City Hall in February, on four charges of sexual assault and one charge of overcoming resistance by choking.
He will face a separate trial on the remaining count of sexual assault at a trial the following June.
The one count of sexual assault would be tried separately because it occurred in a “different factual context,” Callaghan said.
He also said that the case was moved from the College Park courthouse to a larger courtroom at nearby Old City Hall to accommodate the media and public.
Lead defence lawyer Marie Henein has said Ghomeshi will plead not guilty to all charges.
CBC fired Ghomeshi in October, after executives saw what they described as graphic evidence that he had physically injured a woman.
The conditions on Ghomeshi's $100,000 bail require him to remain in Ontario and live with his mother at her Thornhill home.
Speaking generally, legal experts say there are many reasons the Crown may decide to withdraw sexual assault charges because there is no reasonable prospect of conviction.
"It does not mean the complainant is not honest or not credible. It does not mean the Crown has decided she is not believable ... or that didn't happen," says lawyer Joanna Birenbaum, an expert in sexual assault law.
She says the Crown may consider the specificity of the allegations, the complainant's memory of the events, her health and wellbeing whent it comes to testifying, and whether there is any evidence that contradicts her version of events.
"It is complicated equation that will change from case to case," she said. "The difficulty is sexual assault cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute ... our legal system is still reluctant to convict based on a woman's testimony alone."
The Crown has to look at whether it can prove each element of the offence, said Blair Crew, a criminal law professor at the University of Ottawa.
In a case with multiple charges, the Crown may want to proceed only on the charges with the strongest evidence and withdraw other charges after consulting with the complainants, Crew said.
In some cases, Crown may withdraw charges because the complainants no longer want to proceed, possibly because all aspects of their lives may be subjected to scrutiny, he said.
"In a high-profile case, this is not a decision they are going to take lightly. There is always going to be concern that because of an offender's high profile they are going to get special treatment," said Crew. "It would make them (the prosecutors) less likely than normal to pull the plug."
UPDATED: May 13, 2015 8:12 a.m.