Long Noses and the Jian Ghomeshi Trial

Posted on February 12, 2016


Like many people in Canada, I have been following the Jian Ghomeshi case since it broke in 2014. Since starting my blog, I have on occasion cited a personal experience to contextualize my position, but have never written a post that focuses entirely on my personal experiences to make a point.

Today, however, is a different story.

The trial of Jian Ghomeshi (at least in my opinion) has been a bit of a farce. Without Ghomeshi taking the stand, there is no way his actions — either privately or publicly – will ever be questioned or cross-examined. This is quite an unfortunate circumstance, but a reality of Canadian law. This is how it works and most of the time it’s for good reason. Without enough evidence, there should be an acquittal. I’m a firm believer that it is better twelve guilty people go free than one innocent person be wrongfully convicted.

With that said, Ghomenshi’s defense is not that he didn’t engage in sexual violence, but that these women consented to the violent acts inflicted upon them. That, it seems, is the crux of his argument. Or, from the point of view of his lawyer, if the witnesses are discredited enough then it will simply show they were lying and the assault (not the violent act themselves) didn’t actually occur. See the nuance?

Marie Henein is a formidable lawyer. But she is hardly a magician. As we know, it is pretty easy to discredit witnesses when you “whack” away at their memories or use post-assault activities to lessen their credibility. It is a given fact that whenever there are two or more witnesses that a collusion will be used as a defense. And, historically, this type of defense usually works. The disclosure from his victims, and other women who have come forward, has been profoundly disturbing – mostly because, I myself, have been the victim of physical and sexual assault. It is highly unlikely that 23 women who reported abuse are lying. Most of my experiences (and there are many) are too bothersome to mention, but one stands out in my mind.

When I was 17, I started dating a man who was 36 years old. We dated for approximately three years (on and off), but at one point we were engaged to be married.

He was controlling and abusive.

At some point in the relationship, I realized he was “escorting” another woman, so I challenged him on that fact and confronted him in a public setting. In his desperation to keep me under his control, he demanded that we leave the venue (where I confronted him) and go back to my house to “discuss” the matter. I gave in and agreed. Once he was at my house, I accused him of being abusive like his father. He was so angered by this confrontation that he grabbed me by throat (lifting me off the ground while naked) and aggressively choked me. I wouldn’t be alive today if my phone hadn’t rung, snapping him out of his rage.

I did go to the police three days later with choke marks on my neck (a bruising ring). I waited a few days because he had threatened to go after my friends and family with a baseball bat, if I said anything.  When I arrived at the RCMP station (in Red Deer) the police told me that 72 hours had passed so it was too late to press charges. This was AFTER they had run a police check and discovered that he had assaulted a previous intimate partner with a gun.

At this juncture, I simply gave up. I decided the best course of action was to leave my town, move away to my father’s house in Calgary and give up the charges.

Once I moved away, this man began stalking me with phone calls and letters. My father and I finally decided to call the Calgary police to discuss the issue. They told me that the RCMP lied to me with respect to the time frame for charging for the abuse, HOWEVER, they did not encourage me or suggest that I should now pursue charges. So, I didn’t.

Sadly, I did have intimate encounters with this person once (within a year after the abusive incident) even though he had tried to kill me. This fact, of course, would have been used against me if I had then chosen to press charges.

I eventually put the incident behind me and moved on. Ironically, a group of his friends –who had adamantly defended this man during the time of my assault — called a couple of years later asking that I make a statement for the court because he had recently beaten up his most current girlfriend. I agreed wholeheartedly, but did not hear another word again after the initial phone call.

It has been over 30 years since I was almost choked to death. I have never forgotten what happened to me. He got away with it (and likely so much more). What would have happened if I went to court? Nothing much, probably. The RCMP never photographed my choke marks and the Calgary police were not at all concerned (or even encouraging) about pressing charges. I believe pretty strongly that I would have been victimized on the stand.

This is how it works. Nothing much has changed. And I don’t expect it will any time soon.

The one thing I choose to take comfort in from the Ghomeshi trial is the depiction of the long noses of Ghomeshi and Henein drawn by the courtroom artist. Kudos to you. The unconscious sometimes works in beautiful ways.

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. — Carl Jung

I have mixed feelings about posting this story  (I’ve unpublished it once), but it did happen to me. I’ve decided it is best to put it out there and suck it up.

Posted in: Crime