I believe them.
The three women who testified that Jian Ghomeshi had punched, slapped and squeezed his hands around their throats.
The assault in the sexual assault allegation and to which they had not consented.
And do you know what that’s worth, the core substance of their accusations? Not a damn thing.
Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. Latin for “false in one, false in everything,” the common-law legal principle that a witness who testifies falsely about one matter is not credible to testify about any matter.
The complainants against Ghomeshi weren’t flattened on the witness stand because of their conduct before or after the purported battery that occurred — their ongoing communications with a creep whose BDSM predilections are now well-established; the flirtatious emails and photos and texts (“I want to f--k your brains out”) and hand-written letter, the masturbation episode at the home of Witness No. 3. These all made for dramatic moments in court when the accusers were caught out omitting — cleansing — salient details from their narratives, or appending them only at the 11th hour when disclosure under cross-examination loomed.
But they’re not the reason this prosecution lies in tatters — by which I mean specifically that prior and subsequent behaviour is of little interest to the triers of fact — in this judge-only proceeding Justice William Horkins, who’s reserved his decision until March 24. It’s the lying, stupid. There’s zero possibility the women will be charged with perjury — any more than the cop who testified about seeing Sammy Yatim trying to get back up after Const. James Forcillo had already shot him three times, despite video proof that the witness arrived on scene moments after the whole confrontation had ended.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein, in her closing arguments Thursday, largely steered clear of victimhood stereotypes — the ideology of battered woman syndrome that connects generic dots and rationalizes the bizarre behavioural patterns which sometimes ensue as part and parcel of pathology, of preconditioned instincts. Embracing that doctrine leads to gerrymandering the judicial system by removing the innate equality of all witnesses, including those who are simultaneously alleged victims. But that’s precisely what some advocates are demanding — which has translated, in England for example, in exceptional accommodation for sexual abuse complainants, often compelling defence lawyers to submit their cross-examination questions in advance — unthinkable in any other circumstances — and allowing witnesses to be cross-examined via video-link, ostensibly to avoid intimidation.
That’s nuts. Witheringly patronizing towards females, characterizing them as too fragile for the routine rough and tumble of an open court.
It’s the same wrong-headed thinking that, in Canada, excised “rape” from the Criminal Code, replacing the term with a broad definition of sexual assault that includes all unwanted sexual activity such as grabbing, groping and kissing.
Without the consensual kissing, in the Ghomeshi allegations, there would have been no sexual assault. But there could have been assault, which is how these charges should have been prosecuted, although, as described by the complainants it’s still unlikely the incidents would have risen to threshold of reasonable likelihood of conviction.
We’ve criminalized the picayune.
Jane Doe — brutally attacked at knifepoint by the Balcony Rapist in 1986, fighting for 11 years to sue Toronto police, arguing the cops had used her as rape bait because no public warnings had been issued about the perpetrator’s modus operandi and preferences in targets — was among those in the Ghomeshi courtroom, filing dispatches for NOW magazine. I’ve known “Jane” for a quarter-century. She is a heroine to me and countless others, not just for her successful battle but also for her ongoing activism in the arena of sex assault. Yet even “Jane” told me last week she couldn’t understand how the Ghomeshi case had ever come to court, while also fearing that other victims would be discouraged from reporting because of how this trial unfolded.
It unfolded this way primarily because the complainants were swaddled in fuzzy investigative treatment. They were absolutely believed in the absence of any evidence other than their word. That word was never tested, as it would be in any other circumstances. The police role is to conduct thorough investigations, put together a credible jacket and lay charges when they’re merited, though technically the Crown’s Office decides whether to proceed with charges.
With sexual assault allegations, that tried and true formula has been turned inside-out. When Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, commander of the force’s sex crimes unit, called a press conference in November 2014, to announce that three women had come forward with allegations against Ghomeshi, she made some astonishing statements which shed light on the inverse-thinking propelling this matter. “We believe them right from the outset,” Beaven-Desjardins declared of alleged sex-assault victims, adding “when they come in, 100 per cent we are behind them . . . it’s all about the victims and moving them forward.”
No, it isn’t. Or damn well shouldn’t be the investigative crux.
That resulted in a police-statement interview with Lucy DeCoutere — the only accuser who waived a mandatory publication ban on her name — which lasted less than an hour, and nothing further in the next 14 months. Witness No. 3, the woman who masturbated Ghomeshi days after he’d allegedly throttled her in the park, appended that detail to her statement on the morning before she began testifying — and that interview with detectives lasted nine minutes.
Little wonder that all the complainants said they’d been treated well by police — DeCoutere described the cops as “warm and sympathetic.” Which puts the lie to rhetoric from feminist evangelicals, that police manhandle purported victims and reflexively doubt them.
The Crowns in the Ghomeshi trial were equally sandbagged by their witnesses, a wince-inducing spectacle that could have been averted had pertinent questions been posed while the complainants were being prepared for court. Lead prosecutor Michael Callaghan all but waved the white flag by abandoning his application to argue a similar-fact case, meaning Horkins will consider each of the charges individually rather than as buttressing or bolstering of the collective.
I believe you, ladies. Multitudes do. If there’s to be any solace found in that.