There was just that one little thing.
Jian Ghomeshi’s phallus.
In the witness’s hand. At her house. Consensually. A post-dinner manual stimulation. A couple of days after the then-CBC celebrity radio host had allegedly wrapped his own paws around the complainant’s throat and squeezed.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein put it thusly to the witness, the third (and last) accuser to testify against Ghomeshi at his sexual assault trial: “You messed around and gave him a hand job. It happened at your place. It happened after the assault.”
BOING went the trial, as, for the first time on Monday, Ghomeshi’s penis was introduced into evidence, albeit not as formal exhibit — merely as party to events under dispute.
“He magically appears in your home, his penis ends up in your hand, he sleeps over …” Henein continued as the witness — who can’t be identified — fidgeted nervously on the stand, nearing the end of another problematic day for the prosecution, although some of the jaw-dropping zing has gone out of the proceedings as the trial staggers to a conclusion.
Accuser: “It was an absolute misjudgment, an embarrassment and one that a lot of women make.’’
She regrets the intimacy; Ghomeshi invited into her bed, the creep who’d hurt her not long before during another “make-out” session in the park, and suddenly tightened his fingers around her neck. More crucial, though, as far as this woman’s flagellated credibility is concerned, was her failure to disclose that romantic interlude to either police investigators or the Crowns who have been in her corner — at least not until last Friday, when the complainant, long belatedly, provided an amended statement.
It’s getting monotonous, these testimony-bruising rewrites that sharp cookie Henein has elicited from the complainants. In this case, however, the witness got there first, pre-emptively, with her altered statement to detectives and the revelation, induced under examination in chief by Crown attorney Michael Callaghan.
A pertinent detail which, Henein later charged, was slotted in only once the complainant realized that similarly damaging evidence had been presented to the two women who’d preceded her into the witness box – flirtatious emails and photographs and a hand-written letter sent to Ghomeshi after each had been purportedly subjected to violent mistreatment: slaps, punches, choking: considered the stuff of sex assault because the sudden, unexpected attacks occurred within a sexual context — passionate kissing.
This witness was in the courthouse last Tuesday while the first witness was still testifying, because she was originally expected to be called second. She was not to follow media reports of the trial and, indeed, claims that’s not what happened.
She’d merely overheard part of a radio report on Friday, something about “emails,” which made the witness go back to check whether she had any such communication with Ghomeshi following the alleged assault, finding only one. It was just “curiosity” that sent her looking, she testified under cross-examination.
But the timing of the complainant’s amended statement — under oath — is provocative. It was only at that point she hastily added a reference to the consensual “sex act” at her house.
What the witness originally told investigators, when she went to police with her allegation on Dec. 3, 2014 — 12 years after the alleged abuse — was that there had been three significant interactions with Ghomeshi that July.
A walk in the park, one evening, after she had finished her performance in a free public engagement. Ghomeshi, whom she barely knew, had come up from behind while she was speaking to a group of girls and placed his elbows on her shoulders and made a weird comment: “We’re engaged.”
Witness: “It was taking ownership of me in a way that was surprising.”
They went for dinner on the Danforth, sat on the patio, and she was struck by his apparent keenness to be spotted. “He seemed very aware of who was noticing him.’’ Otherwise, she remembered nothing else about that night.
The next time she encountered Ghomeshi was following another performance. They talked and drifted to a bench near the baseball diamond. “We were making out. Suddenly I felt his h-h-hands on my shoulder and his teeth and his hands were around my neck and he was squeezing. It all happened so fast. It was rough.’’
But no, she hadn’t attempted to get away from Ghomeshi. They never even spoke about it. The purported incident did, however, raise “warning bells.’’
“I realized at that point there was something not right about that. It was a switch, not the person I’d been there with.’’
Callaghan asked if she’d ever consented to the mistreatment. “I was never asked.”
Thereafter followed another dinner at an Indian restaurant on King St., and then they repaired to a bar. Ghomeshi introduced her to a man; she thinks the fellow may have been a reporter for the New York Times. In any event, Ghomeshi appeared quite preening about his friendship with this individual.
The guy asked if she and Ghomeshi were dating. To which Ghomeshi replied, as the witness recounted Monday: “Oh we’re not seeing each other. We’re just f---ing.”
Which they hadn’t, the complainant was quick to testify. “Not then, not ever.’’
The mean crack made her feel small. “Well, it certainly put me in my place. It’s not nice. It’s pretty graphic. And it’s not true, more than anything. It was never true.”
What the complainant didn’t tell police in her original videotaped statement — played in chunks for court yesterday — was that, despite his demeaning comment, she took Ghomeshi home that night. “That was not a relevant detail?” asked Henein. No, it wasn’t, because she’d never been asked about subsequent consensual sex with Ghomeshi by the cops. It was “a little thing,” unworthy of mention and irrelevant to her complaint, or so she thought then.
“It wasn’t sex. It wasn’t sexual intercourse, is what I mean. Obviously a big mistake.”
Henein: “Is it possible you wanted to keep that part hidden?”
Witness: “I was embarrassed, very embarrassed, and I didn’t think that it was going to become relevant.”
She continued, in reference to this detail, appended on Friday, after her good friend Lucy DeCoutere had testified: “It wasn’t about getting caught. I figured this was something the Crown needed to know before you (Henein) did. It wasn’t about getting caught. It was about making sure that they wouldn’t be blindsided.’’
Henein, reviewing the complainant’s testimony under Crown questioning on Monday: “Do you accept that you are being deliberately misleading?”
Nor had she mentioned that intimate episode in the 5,000 messages she exchanged with DeCoutere between Sept. 23 and Oct. 29, 2014, as the Ghomeshi story was breaking in the media. Didn’t recount it either in the interview she gave to the Star’s Kevin Donovan, who had learned of her claims through a Facebook posting.
The complainant took issue with some of the language Donovan used in the story that resulted from that interview; insisted she’d never used the word “attack” to describe the assault, or “grope” in relation to the incident in the park.
The complainant was quite adamant, on Monday, that she’d never described the park episode as an attack when giving her statement to police. Further, she’d told police that her intention, after the alleged assault, had been to see Ghomeshi only in a public place, such as the King St. bar. Yet she had been with him alone, afterwards.
Henein: “So that’s a lie?”
He’s stayed over, but not the entire night — he’d awakened, dressed and left.
The final occasion the complainant saw Ghomeshi socially was at a party. In that instance, said the witness, Ghomeshi had made hostile comments about her best girlfriend, called the woman controlling — best to get away from her.
It’s unclear how it happened, in the re-telling, but next thing — in her testimony — the complainant was in the car with Ghomeshi after this party and they were arguing about the friend.
“I got out of the car, slammed the door, told him he was crazy, to lose my number and never call me again.”