Before she hated him, wished the guy fat and “f--ked” and “flushed,” she was mad about the boy.
Would have loved him, could have loved him — despite the chokehold on her throat, despite the three sharp slaps to her face — if only Jian Ghomeshi would have let her into his heart.
“I love your hands.”
Lucy DeCoutere wrote those testimony-about-face words, three days after Ghomeshi had allegedly sexually assaulted her at his Riverdale home.
Gasps and groans ricocheted around the courtroom on Friday as the handwritten letter was revealed, defence lawyer Marie Henein making the witness read aloud that final sentence of her starkly illuminating missive.
The hands that had struck DeCoutere, hurt her.
“It never happened,” said Henein, fiercely, having pulled out perhaps the most damaging of all the gotcha evidence that has stunned and shaken observers during the week-old trial.
DeCoutere: “Oh, it happened.”
But what happened, exactly? Either the despicable episode that DeCoutere has recounted, Ghomeshi’s fingers squeezing the breath out of her, three blows across the cheeks, or something less criminal, or nothing at all.
A forgiving victim who rose above the cruelty of that encounter and tried to convince herself it had been merely a “blip” in character for Ghomeshi, a momentary deviance. That was but one theory DeCoutere advanced, to reason out her subsequent kindness and continuing interest in this man. The defence counterpunch, constructed on the bones of dozens of cheerful, sometimes lascivious emails and the 950-word love letter: A woman crushing on Ghomeshi, searching for a way back into intimacy, a lingering fixation that DeCoutere has repeatedly denied.
“Are you prepared to admit that you have been lying about your feelings, that you are lying about the incident?” Henein demanded.
DeCoutere: “Absolutely not.”
Henein all but pinned the witness to the mat. “This is what you have never told the police. This is what you have never told the Crown attorneys. This is what you would never have told His Honour until it was shown to you.”
DeCoutere acknowledged she hadn’t mentioned the letter, dated July 9, 2003, to anyone — not in her complainant’s statement, not on Thursday morning when that statement was amended, just before she took the stand as the second of three accusers against the fallen CBC star to testify.
There has been a whole lot of forgetting going on, in Courtroom 125.
“Yes, this letter exists,” DeCoutere said calmly, in the modulated tones of a professional actress, when given the opportunity to soliloquize by Crown attorney Corie Langdon. “It’s very candid. There’s no untruth in this letter.
“The last line is me, pointing love to the very thing that he used to hurt me.” Saying to the then-popular radio and TV host: “The things that you used to hurt me? I can even learn to love those.”
Staring clear-eyed into the abyss of her scuttled credibility, DeCoutere added: “This letter changed nothing.”
Perhaps not. She was conflicted about Ghomeshi, admiring him, appealing for a relationship with this funny and charming fellow — her description — while simultaneously appalled by the violence he’d purportedly demonstrated during the one weekend they’d spent together in Toronto, a trip DeCoutere undertook from Halifax precisely to feel out the potential for romance — communiqués which she also hadn’t revealed before Henein flashed them on the jumbo screen.
And they have certainly changed the dynamics of this trial, portraying DeCoutere as yet another besotted Ghomeshi junkie, apparently willing to forgive and forget whatever had been ugly between them.
“I think you are magic and would love to see you,” she wrote.
“You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to f--k your brains out,” she wrote, less than 24 hours after the alleged slapping and choking. “Tonight.”
DeCoutere tried mightily to dull the damage, veering off towards the catechism of abused-woman syndrome. “It doesn’t change the fact of the matter. That would be like someone being assaulted by her husband and still staying married to him.”
It does a disservice to victims for DeCoutere to seek shelter in their pathology.
She was then, as now, a smart, strong, independent woman. She had no emotional history with Ghomeshi to untangle. There was neither financial dependency nor family considerations to complicate disengaging from the person who’d brutally manhandled her, as alleged. Ghomeshi, while apparently a celebrity of influence in the entertainment industry they shared, had no discernible pressure he could wield over her career and hadn’t — so far as court has heard — attempted to shut her up about the incident lest his own reputation be threatened.
They lived 1,800 kilometres apart until DeCoutere moved to Toronto in 2005 — still attempting to rekindle the spark she’d felt between them.
“Planning to stay indefinitely... so let me know when you want to hook up.”
“If you want to hang out, give me a shout.”
“If there is an itch you need... um... scratching.”
On the witness stand: “Another example of me using sexual innuendo to be funny. It is my particular brand of humour and parlance. I have no interest in scratching anything.”
“I’m in town and am gonna call your cellphone and ask you to play with me... in a manner of speaking... so you have fair warning.”
On the witness stand: “This is platonic, I guarantee it.”
“If I don’t get to hang with you while we are in Banff, I’m gonna beat the crap out of you.”
Under different circumstances, it might be described as crazy lady stalking.
To wit: “I may stalk you a little between meetings.”
On the witness stand: “Obviously stalk is an exaggeration.”
“I am booked pretty solidly for the days but maybe dinner? Or perhaps I could tap you on the shoulder for breakfast.”
On the witness stand: “That would imply physical intimacy — which was not gonna happen. Reading it now is terrible because it makes me sound like I was propositioning him, which I really wasn’t.”
“Proof that you can’t live without me,” in reference to an attached email photo of their karaoke number on the Banff stage, subject line: “Hit me, baby, 1 more tyme. (sic)”
On the witness stand: “I’m trying to make Mr. Ghomeshi less of an assaulter and more of a friend.”
Another pic that DeCoutere emailed Ghomeshi depicts her pseudo-fellating a beer bottle.
On the witness stand: “It’s a ridiculous sexualized photo of me drinking a bottle of beer. My intent was never to tantalize him.”
A lot of women have claimed sexual brutality by Ghomeshi. But only three complainants are party to this trial. DeCoutere alone has waived a publication ban on her name.
That takes guts. Or it takes guile.