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Ghomeshi Day 7: A girlfriend brings the outside world to court

The Crown’s lone outside witness as a reminder of what an insular, hermetic process the Ghomeshi trial has been


 
Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto court. (Chris Young/CP)

Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi arrives at a Toronto court. (Chris Young/CP)

Female friends talk. And one thing they talk about (down to the most minute details) is the post-date post-mortem. That fact converged with judicial process on Wednesday when Exhibit 44, a 33-page transcript of the Nov. 24, 2014 statement made to Halifax police, was submitted into evidence. In it, actress Sarah Dunsworth recalls DeCoutere calling her “maybe a week” after what she described as “a really bad and weird” date with Ghomeshi a decade earlier. Dunsworth, who appeared with DeCoutere on Trailer Park Boys, said DeCoutere “described going to his house, and that he had ended up putting hands on her neck and choking her.” She recalled DeCoutere telling her the attack “came from out of nowhere,” adding, “she thought that it was really weird, and it freaked her out.”

The testimony, ruled admissible by Ontario Court Justice William Horkins yesterday, was a reminder of what a hermetic process the Ghomeshi trial has been—and how little of that process has focused on the actual alleged sexual assaults. Defence lawyer Marie Henein’s aggressive cross-examinations of the three complainants, a sort of insular triangulation, has dominated; the focus has been on their behaviour after the alleged sexual assaults and the various ways they misrepresented it. As the Crown wound up its case on Wednesday it became clear Dunsworth’s would be the only other testimony; no other witnesses will be called. The first witness testified she’d gone to the home of a friend, highly distraught, the night Ghomeshi punched her three times. That friend was not called. Nor will the court hear the “he said” part of the so-called “she said-he said” dynamic underlying sexual assault trials: Ghomeshi will not testify.

Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan succeeded in having Dunsworth’s testimony admitted on Tuesday; he argued it would “rebut” the defence’s repeated allegations that DeCoutere’s account of the assault was a “fabrication.” She’d told a friend immediately after the assault, Callaghan told the court; Dunsworth’s testimony also counters the defence’s charge that DeCoutere jumped on a bandwagon seeking “fame” and “attention” after other women came forward with similar allegations with Ghomeshi in late 2014. Dunsworth was originally slated to appear in court until bad weather in Halifax kiboshed that; then her Skype wasn’t working. So the statement had to suffice.

In it, Dunsworth makes mention of a topic given shockingly little scrutiny in the trial: consent. There was none, she told police. DeCoutere said she and Ghomeshi “haven’t discussed it before-hand, or that it wasn’t part of any you know, sex play, or anything.” She recalled how DeCoutere was laughing when she called to ask: “Is this normal?” referring to Ghomeshi choking her. “Lucy is not a big dater,” Dunsworth told the police by way of explanation of why her friend might even consider such behaviour within dating etiquette bounds. “No, that’s—it’s really not normal,” Dunsworth assured her friend. She didn’t mention DeCoutere saying that Ghomeshi had slapped her three times, as she testified in court last week.

In her testimony, Dunsworth indicated confusion about timing. She said DeCoutere had phoned a week or so after the assault that DeCoutere told police occurred in July 2003; she was “definitely here in Nova Scotia” and “[DeCoutere] was living in Toronto,” Dunsworth said. Yet emails between Ghomeshi and DeCoutere shown to the court last week indicate DeCoutere moved to Toronto in 2005.

But Dunsworth echoed DeCoutere’s originally testimony, which was dismantled by Heinen in court. Dunsworth claimed her friend was not interested in Ghomeshi: “[All] I remember is that sense she really wasn’t that into him,” Dunsworth said, adding, “You know, [the choking incident] kind of sealed the deal … I think she described him as arrogant.”

Texts and Facebook messages between the two women dated between Oct. 27 and Nov. 13, 2014, also were submitted to court records. When asked in 2014 about whether she and DeCoutere had “recent communication” about the choking incident, Dunsworth said: “Umm, well, obviously I’ve talked to her because she’s one of my best friends.” Dunsworth told police DeCoutere called her in fall of 2014 before she “went public, umm, just to sort of warn me.” Facebook communication on Oct. 27, 2014, indicate DeCoutere told Dunsworth she would be “stirring the pot” by taking to Twitter about the allegations. Dunsworth responded: “I’ll keep the heat down? I’ll turn it up? I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Then she figured it out:

“OH WAIT

I’LL BE YOUR OVEN MITTS

THAT”S WHAT I AM.”

In her response, DeCoutere said was “giving people the rope” and that she loved Dunsworth, who responded: “don’t give the people s–t speak your truth and know we all support you.”

On Oct. 29, 2014, DeCoutere texted Dunsworth expressing self-doubt: she said she’d be on CBC’s The Current the next day and that she hoped she didn’t “sound like a f–king moron.” Two weeks later, on Nov. 13, 2014, DeCoutere wrote to Dunsworth and said, “Um, guess what? the Toronto cops want your number.”

“Just to corrorborate? [sic],” Dunsworth responded. DeCoutere wrote back: “I told them I told you what happened AGES ago.” Dunsworth’s testimony was vital, DeCoutere told her: “It makes me look like i am not a copycat reported [sic].” Dunsworth shot back: “Corroborate haha.” “All those words,” DeCoutere said. “Ya no prob,” Dunsworth answered.  Justice Horkins agreed to read the statement for “probative value.” What he will make of of it we will see.


 

Ghomeshi Day 7: A girlfriend brings the outside world to court

  1. You got it half right Anne. The focus has been on the witnesses misrepresentation while under oath. The focus has not been on their conduct, except to the extent that it shows they were not truthful when questioned.
    .
    There has been no evidence presented by the crown regarding the alleged assault, save for the witness testimony. Their truthfulness while under oath is the only way to asses the crowns case.
    .
    Anything else would simply be he said/she said, with equal weight given to each of the witnesses and the defendant. That would ensure an acquittal every time. Surely you understand this much … don’t you Anne?

    • No Anne fails to understand the proper process of a just and fair court case.
      In fact Anne Kingston has right from her first article, shown herself to have NO interest in a fair court process.
      Like all extremist feminists Anne is only interested in a gulity verdict.
      Surely MacLeans has a more competent and fair minded writer to cover cases as important as this one.

    • Since this type of entertainment is very good for distracting us from what really matters here on planet nuts, I wish they allowed tv camera’s in so we could see all the smart fashion….I mean this is downtown Toronto. Anyone get the feeling Marie & Jian are related ? They look like their eggs swam in the same gene pool. Very handsome humans I must say ! What a time to be alive ! Donald Duck is running for President and Rickey’s girlfriend got messed up by some hairdo with a microphone….

  2. Hermetic? Insular triangulation? Not obvious what the meaning, let alone relevance, of these terms is in the context of the Ghomeshi trial. Almost every sentence uttered in court was transcribed to Twitter almost in real-time. How hermetic is that? The prosecution only called 3 witnesses to testify so Henein was, umm, kinda obliged to triangulate. So far as insularity is concerned, I can’t fathom whether that refers to court operations and interactions, the shared experiences (and flakiness) of the witnesses or Ms. Kingston’s thought processes.

    What clearly were insular were the predominant #Ghomeshi tweets from the sisterhood promoting such feminist ideals as: ‘Guilty until proven innocent’ and every trauma is equally serious and debilitating. This trial has exposed the fact that too many Canadian women don’t even seek to be independent, fully-functioning adults.

    • Anne is probably not a very mature adult either.
      Her writing about this case has exposed Anne’s infantile thought processes and her lack of competence as a serious writer.
      Anne should be writing for a tabloid gossip rag, NOT for MacLeans.

    • My my, Mr. Roy me loves your way to talk. Wish I could figure out how to organize a heaping pile of words like that into that prose pimple. I wish I had went to school more then I could really get the point of those words that sound like they mean something and you’re waaay smarter than the rest of us.

  3. “As one veteran Toronto lawyer put it this week, “the criminal justice system has been hijacked by ideology,” in this instance, the feminist chant that accusers must always be believed.”

    YUP…that would describe this whole affair.
    But this time the Radical Feminists who spout this kind of hateful lynch mob nonsense were exposed for what they really are.
    Extremists blinded by their own hysterical ideology and willing to break all the rules of a just and fair process
    … just like ALL extremists do.

    • Oh I spoke too soon….PHIL2014 is the smartest guy in the room, sorry Mr. Roy

    • Nailed it. Why is it that people were protesting this case BEFORE the case began, before any evidence is presented, and still continue to protest when it’s painfully, embarrassingly clear that there was a planned effort to try and destroy this mans integrity and career. Did they know something? Anne?

      People are so quick to judge, it’s terrifying.

      I thought macleans was a “news” magazine . I didn’t see any reporting in Anne’s first article, just tabloid trash. Shame on her.

  4. Insular? Hermetic? Maybe everyone who tweeted an opinion should have been called, is that where this dreamed-for special sexual assault court should go from here? Sorry for the sarcasm, but I couldn’t even finish reading this one. There’s more wisdom in the comments. As someone said here, it’s the advocates who have proven insular and hermetic. Strangely, so many of these writers seem to have avidly followed the action in the courts without picking up a single legal concept.

    It’s amazing how few heard Heinen’s focus that it’s the fact that the witnesses didn’t honour their oath to tell the truth that damages their credibility. Out here in the world we call that perjury. I believe she said she’s never seen that in 24 years of law, though she might have said that about never seeing witnesses recanting (in response to the Crown saying the witnesses were “unshaken”). I saw both versions in the coverage.

    The witnesses gave the authority to themselves as to what was relevant or not, that’s Heinen’s argument, (paraphrasing). What’s more insular and hermetic than that? They clearly seem to have been on the receiving end of some coaching from these advocates. If only one of them helped them fully appreciate that someone’s liberty is at stake here and the court environment reflects that. It might not be perfect, but it beats being tried and convicted in a virtual schoolyard.

  5. Anne notes that the topic of consent was given “shockingly little scrutiny” in this trial. The fact is, Ghomeshi’s defense has never been that he choked and beat these women but it was consensual. His defense has been that these assaults never took place, consensual or otherwise. The use of consent as a defense simply would not work because you cannot give consent to an illegal action, such as choking or beating another person. The fact that this point appears to be lost on the journalist that MacLean’s has chosen to cover this trial is rather disappointing.

    So, to recap just in case Anne reads these comments: The Crown did not mention consent because it is their claim that there was none, and the defense did not claim consent because it is not a viable defense. Intead, Ms. Henein used emails, letters, text messages, and Facebook posts to show that the three witnesses were not being truthful in an attempt to discredit there testimony. That’s all. Consent is not the issue.

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