Disgraced radio host Jian Ghomeshi has been spending his time lately “taking stock of what life is,” one anonymous friend tells writer Leah McLaren for the cover story of the July issue of Toronto Life.
“Obviously this whole situation has made him pause and reflect,” the friend, identified by McLaren as David, is quoted as saying. “I think that, more than anything, he wants to tell his side of the story.”
Ghomeshi, 48, is facing four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. His lawyer, Marie Henein, said he intends to plead not guilty.
The once-popular host of Q has been practically out of the spotlight since he was fired by the CBC on Oct. 26. The Toronto Star and other media outlets have published the accounts of several women and one man accusing Ghomeshi of harassment, physical abuse and sexual assault.
A damning report from an independent workplace investigation released in April concluded that CBC management condoned Ghomeshi’s inappropriate workplace behaviour, which included alleged sexual harassment.
Two senior executives, including head of radio Chris Boyce, left the public broadcaster the day the report dropped.
Friends, colleagues and publicists quickly scurried away from Ghomeshi as the scandal erupted last year, but according to McLaren’s piece, he is still surrounded by a close circle of “admirers,” as he readies for two trials set to take place in the first half of next year.
“David” told McLaren that Ghomeshi is usually at his home in the Beach, reading, watching TV and working out, while sleeping at his mother’s home in Thornhill. His mother acts as his surety, which allows him to be out on bail, and apparently spends time with him in the Beach as well, according to the article.
“So what do the people in Jian’s camp today have in common?” McLaren, who says she has known Ghomeshi for more than a decade, writes in the six-page piece.
“They may believe Jian is innocent or willing to suspend their disbelief in order to have the pleasure of basking in his approval and notoriety. Or, they may believe he’s guilty and love him anyway.”
Among those in Ghomeshi’s close circle, according to the story, is a woman named Sarah Bobas, who has worked in various public relations firms and once briefly dated Ghomeshi.
McLaren writes that some of the women accusing Ghomeshi of sexual assault are alleging Bobas contacted them “in a friendly manner” to ask if they intended to go to the media or the police, something Bobas denies.
“I am simply being a good friend to a friend who is in a difficult situation as any good person would do,” reads an email she apparently sent to McLaren that is quoted in the story.
“I have no views on Jian’s criminal case and do not have the ability to provide any intelligent comment on whether he is guilty or innocent.”
Much of the rest of the story contains details already familiar to the public: that Ghomeshi was very close to his father and devastated by his death, which took place just weeks before he was fired; that he was once an awkward kid desperately trying to fit in, and has struggled with anxiety his whole life; and that people claimed he displayed inappropriate behaviour in and out of the workplace.
So how will he fare in the end?
“For his part, Jian is confident that no matter how bad the evidence looks, he will ultimately be exonerated,” McLaren writes.
“He’s a survivor — someone who thrives under stress and is spurred on by external pressure. He knew he would need a team to get through this, so he did what any survivor would do: he built one.”