By: Casey O’Sullivan
**Possible trigger warning regarding sexual assault**
Recently, on March 24th, former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted on four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance through choking. Another trial will be held in June for one more accusation of sexual assault.
Until fall of 2014, Ghomeshi hosted CBC’s Q broadcast. He was fired upon the CBC receiving news of an allegation. Later investigations done by the Toronto Star revealed 15 women with detailed allegations, only three of which went on to report it to police.
The allegations stated that Ghomeshi used violent force without any warning, which included him punching a woman three times in the head during intercourse and choking several other women.
He was acquitted on all five charges due to “inconsistencies” with the testimonies of the victims. These assaults, may I add, occured in the early 2000s. I am not a psychology major, but I do know of something called ‘repressed memories’, and general detail loss over time. Yes, when going to court one needs to have full detail of the events that took place. All of these women had just that. Unfortunately for them, contacting Ghomeshi after the event caused him to be deemed not-guilty.
As a victim of sexual assault, I know how horrifying it is to debate with yourself over whether to report the event to police. As we are proven time and time again – this situation included – the judicial system does not frequently favour sexual assault victims. Unfortunately, it can be a “he said-she said” debate, in which the police may advise against pressing charges. For example, my abuser received eight months of house arrest, and a lifetime on the national sex offenders list. Even though I provided the courts with clear, hard evidence. He confessed in text messages the next day that he knew exactly what he had done. So yes, I won my court battle. However, my abuser got to start his new life eight months after the final court date, while I will serve a lifetime sentence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What I would like to say has been reiterated throughout the media, and I hope it will never stop. I believe all victims of sexual assault, regardless of what the courts say. Ten to twelve years have gone by for some of these women in the Ghomeshi case, and for any person to believe that they will still remember every exact detail from the assault, is delusional. After traumatic situations, the mind will often black out random details of the event in order to protect itself. Just because these women talked to Ghomeshi again (one of which spoke to him to make him admit what he had done) does not mean he did not do it. That being said, Ontario Court Justice William Horkins stated that he is not saying these events never happened, but the court could not fully determine whether the accusations were legitimate.
Regardless of the decision, I hope that no broadcast company hires Ghomeshi again, and that his reputation is tainted indefinitely. The media has done a great job of not letting this verdict silence victims, instead it has encouraged victims to speak out and get angry – as we should.