- Judge says impossible to say if assault allegations true
- Ghomeshi is former host of popular `Q' radio program
Jian Ghomeshi, a former radio host for Canada’s public broadcaster, was found not guilty of charges that included sexual assault and choking after an Ontario court ruled there was reasonable doubt about the allegations made by several women.
Justice William Horkins made the ruling in a Toronto court Thursday. Ghomeshi was charged in November with four counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking, according to the original police statement. The judge said the accusers’ testimony was inconsistent, while acknowledging his ruling doesn’t mean Ghomeshi didn’t assault the women.
"My conclusion that the evidence in this case raises a reasonable doubt is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened," Justice Horkins said in the verdict. "At the end of this trial, a reasonable doubt exists because it is impossible to determine, with any acceptable degree of certainty or comfort, what is true and what is false. I find Mr. Ghomeshi not guilty on all of these charges and they will be noted as dismissed."
Toronto police began investigating Ghomeshi, former host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s popular music and culture radio show "Q", on Oct. 31 after three women came forward with evidence of sexual attacks. In an Oct. 26 post on his Facebook account, Ghomeshi said he was innocent, stating the sexual acts were consensual. The CBC fired him amid the allegations and investigation.
Police escorted Ghomeshi up the steps of the downtown Toronto court Thursday morning when he arrived to hear the verdict, with dozens of reporters, protesters, and the general public crowding around him. Ghomeshi didn’t testify at his trial.
Crown attorney Michael Callaghan said after the verdict that the team will take the long weekend to read the full judgment and decide next steps. They have 30 days to appeal, he said. He was interrupted by a topless female protester who ran in front of him, and was tackled to the icy ground by two police officers. Hundreds of people joined the crowd in front of the downtown courthouse following the verdict, including several police officers. A rally and march in support of assault survivors is also organized for later today.
Ghomeshi faces one more count of sexual assault, with that trial scheduled for June.