World

Verdict expected in Jian Ghomeshi sex assault trial

A Canadian judge is expected to deliver a verdict on Thursday in the sexual assault trial of Jian Ghomeshi, once one of the country’s top broadcasters.

The trial, which attracted a flurry of media attention, has spurred debate about how victims of sexual assault are treated by the Canadian legal system.

Mr Ghomeshi’s three accusers came under intense scrutiny from the defence during the eight-day trial.

He is charged with sexual assault and choking his victims.

Mr Ghomeshi, 48, has denied the charges. He has said the encounters were consensual, describing them as “rough sex”.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Police said the assaults took place in 2002 and 2003.

During the trial, defence lawyer Marie Henein questioned why his accusers remained in contact or on good terms with Mr Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults.

Several witness contradicted their testimony during the trialImage copyrightAP
Image captionSeveral witness contradicted their testimony during the trial

One sent Mr Ghomeshi a picture of herself in a bikini after she said he had punched her in the head. She told Ms Henein that she wanted to bait Mr Ghomeshi into incriminating himself.

But prosecutor Michael Callaghan said “post-assault contact was not relevant to the sexual assault that took place” and every victim coped with assault differently.

Some advocates for sexual assault victims worried that women were being put on trial rather than the alleged attacker.

Others were concerned the scrutiny would discourage other victims from coming forward in future cases.

Pedestrians walk in front of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) building in downtown TorontoImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe CBC sacked Mr Ghomeshi in 2014

Mr Ghomeshi, who hosted the radio show Q, was sacked by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2014 after the allegations became public.

The CBC began an inquiry into Mr Ghomeshi’s sexual activities after the Toronto Star newspaper began investigating allegations by an ex-girlfriend that he had engaged in non-consensual, violent sex with her.

The report found that CBC management knew about Mr Ghomeshi’s behaviour, or should have known. It said the members of management did not take steps to stop it.

A number of women came forward after the Star’s report, accusing him of punching, strangling and battering.

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