Lucy DeCoutere on nightmares, healing and the Jian Ghomeshi case

Lucy DeCoutere on nightmares, healing and the Jian Ghomeshi case

‘I refuse to be intimidated by a process that is designed to get the truth about something,’ complainant says of upcoming trial

Luce DeCoutere

Luce DeCoutere

Like the rest of the country, Lucy DeCoutere watched on TV as Jian Ghomeshi was engulfed by press outside a Toronto courthouse back in November. Her gut reaction was compassion. “He’s in the middle of this scrum, can’t move, with his mom and his lawyer,” says the 44-year-old Canadian actress, best known for playing Lucy on Trailer Park Boys.

Then came DeCoutere’s second thought: I’m next.

DeCoutere is one of six complainants in the sexual-assault case against the former CBC radio host. Later this week, the lawyers involved in the case will be back in court for a hearing. And if Ghomeshi sticks with his plea of not guilty, DeCoutere will likely be called to testify in the not-too-distant future.

When DeCoutere — a training and development officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force — went public, she expected her involvement to last a weekend, and that she’d be met with aggression. Instead she inspired the Twitter hashtag #IBelieveLucy, and was part of launching a national conversation about sexual assault that has led to thousands of women seeking her out and sharing their experiences. While the support has “flattened” her — in a good way — it’s also taken its toll. She has nightmares every night and has had to take some time off work to manage the stress. “My heart rate gets up and I slip into an anxiety attack, which isn’t really my vibe,” she says, adding that she has been stress-eating a lot of popcorn. “I’ve probably gained five pounds.”

Related reading: Jian Ghomeshi: How he got away with it 

DeCoutere appears to be coping remarkably well with her strange new reality, flipping from humour and nonchalance to seriousness and candour. She recognizes that since opening the Ghomeshi floodgates, there’s a responsibility to see this through and keep talking about it. But she has her limits. “My tolerance for people treating me disrespectfully is zero,” she says, “which is sort of relaxing. I feel like I’m not in a position anymore where I can expect anything less than respect.”

DeCoutere also finds release in outdoor photography — which she has seriously taken up since being stationed at CFB Gagetown, in Fredericton, N.B. — and is preparing for her first gallery show next month in Toronto.

She’s been moved by the fact that all her previous boyfriends, with the exception of one, have reached out. Also, her bosses at CFB Gagetown have had her back, including a wing commander who she was meeting for the first time directly after hearing that Ghomeshi had been arrested. “He asked, ‘How are you?’” recalls DeCoutere, “and when I told him, ‘I’m not doing too well,’ he just took off his hat.”

Related reading: The toxic environment that abetted Jian Ghomeshi 

Even the police were “warm and sympathetic” when she came to Toronto to file her complaint. On that day she had arranged for a team of supportive friends to meet her afterwards at a Polish restaurant. “We ate a lot of perogies,” recalls DeCoutere. “I said, ‘These are feelings I’m eating, people.’ ”

With that behind her, DeCoutere does not feel overly invested in the outcome of the trial. She feels she’s accomplished what she set out to do: make sure Ghomeshi never hurts another woman.

While she says she has felt an uncharacteristic amount of anxiety since she went public with her experience, the thought of taking the stand does not faze her — or at least she’s determined not to let it. “In the end, the whole thing boils down to me having a conversation with [Ghomeshi’s lawyer] Marie Henein about something that happened 12 years ago,” says DeCoutere. “I refuse to be intimidated by a process that is designed to get the truth about something. I cannot entertain that it’s more complicated than that. And the fact that people really build it up to be more is why more women are unable to share their experiences about violence.”

This story is part of #Project97 — a year-long conversation about sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Visit for more details on this collaborative project by Rogers-owned media outlets, and join us on Twitter with the hashtag #Project97.


Lucy DeCoutere on nightmares, healing and the Jian Ghomeshi case

  1. My prediction.

    In the end all parties will walk.

    The time factor has created spaces in memory.

    The evidence is vague.

    The verbal accusations are piled up.

    It is essentially a he said, she said scenario and any good lawyer will leave enough doubt that a verdict will not be reached.

    You do not have to be proven guilty or innocent – all that needs to be done is create that doubt – and no verdict will be what happens.

    So – who pays the legal bills?

    If it is CBC that means you and I paid the court costs.

  2. Isn’t it hypocritical when thousands of people read or watch the movie ’50 Shades of Grey’ and yet take Jian Ghomeshi to trial and write hate mail about him? I haven’t read the book but isn’t Jian like the ‘hero’ of the book? Did the woman in the story consent? Wasn’t she a victim like Lucy? Why don’t we speak out against this kind of pornography and see how dangerous it is to read books like this? It isn’t just ‘fiction’. As we see it happens in real life.

  3. I have all the respect in the world……..for the women who came forward to stop this from continuing.

    The lack of respect I have is directed at CBC management for letting it go on so long, for Ghomeshi arrogance, willful ignorance and disrespect for women, he was not alone. Watching one of his comedy skits just days earlier of the breaking news, I turned the channel as his jokes were misogynistic.

    If CBC management didn’t see this coming, they should lookup the meaning of willful denial. But then CBC is a billion dollar a year corporate-union welfare on the pockets of Canadians, almost $125,000 per CBC employee is subsidized. If we had any leadership in Canda, they woul dhave CBC cleaned up like Sergo did with Chrysler, start a top down cleanup.

    • I disagree with you on a couple points.

      1 – Jian hasn’t been found guilty yet. I think it’s safe to say he acted inappropriately, but let’s save the mob for after he’s been convicted.
      2 – Jian was publicly celebrated as a feminist before this scandal broke.
      3 – CBC management should not get involved with what happens in someone’s private life. If Jian smoked pot, had rough sex or dressed in drag – it’s irrelevant unless it impacted his job. And despite that I’ve heard (second-hand) that he was difficult to work with – he put out a damn good radio show.

      What the CBC did wrong was cultivate an environment where women were afraid to speak up. At least 9 women allege he sexually harassed them at work – after he was fired.

      If he’s found guilty – then let’s throw the book at him. But let’s wait to see the outcome.

  4. I think a person who uses a Dr. Jeykll and Mr.Hyde MO to control and hurt others and get away with it does so for the very reason that such an unexpected, sudden and violent switch creates the kind of reaction that appears confusing and discrediting to the victim’s account later. In short, the victim is drawn to Mr. Jekyll and fears and hates Mr. Hyde. The victim has a difficult time reconciling the two – but since Dr. j makes you feel good, your mind, rsther hopefully, chooses that as the real “reality”, and seeks to confirm it by drawing out Dr. J. Indeed they may long for the feeling of safety and pleasure that Dr. J invoked to return, for things to revert to thst state when only Dr. j seemed to exist. . With time and either sufficient exposure, or sufficien space, those good feelings fade and a fuller acceptance of the reality of Mr. Hyde takes its plsce, along with anger and resentment at the mistreatment, including the way the victim’s sense of reality was undermined and played with. Typically people think s “rational” petson would immediately forget about and discount Dr. J and replace that mirage with the fact of Mr. Hyde . But the emotional reality of both experiences, the good one amd the bad, are equally real and true as emotional expetiences within the victim. Since few people have sufficient empathy to see and understand this, they come to a conclusion that only one of these experiences can be true. But in so doing, they are ovetlooking the very nature of the experience of being made vulnerable to a Dr. j and Mr. Hyde.

  5. The case has just finished day 3 in the court. And it looks like those women are just jilted ex flings who are trying to get back at him for his rejection of them. And if that’s the case, then the the other claims that were rejected were even more so likely NOT TRUE.

    Already we see that the complainants (3 in total) have tried to keep sexual contact with him up to 2 years after the alleged assault. One claimed that she didn’t watch his show, because it would bring back bad memories; but then she sent flirtatious emails along with a pic of her in a string bikini, stating that she was watching him on tv 2 yrs after the fact. She wanted to hook up with him. The other one hung out with him, and flirted with him right after the alleged assault. There is a photo of her looking rather smitten with him after the alleged assault. Also, the first one remembers the assault happening in a vw beetle: but Jain didn’t own that car till long after the alleged assault. No ones memory can be so dodgy that they can implant a unique car such as a vw beetle. I’ve only been in one once, and i cannot forget the interior. So all in all, it looks like the “best” complainants are also liars, with stories full of VW car shaped holes. So if these are the strongest cases against him that actually made it to court, then the other so called complainants are likely full of it too, and even more so. They were liars: but no one wants to use that word to describe them. And i think it’s because the public and media, for their own reasons, wants them to remain victims regardless.

    If a so called victim’s claims can’t even make it past an experienced RCMP rape councilor, then it’s likely not a real claim. 10 women in total went to the media, but less than half actually made it past the RCMP to a judge; and only 3 made it to trial. And those 3 claims are falling apart only 3 days in under cross examination.

    What disturbs me the most, is that the liberal media have still judged Jian a rapist of all of the 10 women and more. They seem to subscribe to the reasoning that any women who claims assault is always right; and that if she can’t make it to trial past the scrutinizing minds of the RCMP rape specialists, experienced counselors, and authorities, then the system failed them. So even if or when Jian wins this, and is exonerated in the eyes of the law; will the media exonerate him too? Or will they still call him a rapist, and the lairs victims.

    Shouldn’t the law and the media be in agreement? And if the media opposes the law, who is right and who is wrong? Who has the actual right to make a morally lawful judgment? The media, or the Courts?

    • well it’s day 9…and it’s over with a Ghodoushi technical grand slam knockout against those 3 bimbos on the stand. we all wanted that greaseball to get his…his behaviours insult us guys along with the gals in our lives. but the crap that was dug out by Heinen, on the defendants’ lies, collusion, inconsistent let alone bizarre behaviour ”post assault;’ really made your eyes roll. there is not way he is found guilty.

  6. She is a liar and a perjurer. Interesting read after reading about her love letters to Ghomeshi after her accusations.