TORONTO — Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted Thursday on all charges of sexual assault and choking following a trial that sparked an emotional nationwide debate on how the justice system treats abuse complainants as well as raucous courthouse protests over the verdict.
Justice William Horkins said he was unable to rely on the testimony from the three Ghomeshi complainants, describing their memories of alleged abuse at the hands of the former CBC broadcaster as “shifting” and suggesting their evidence at times strayed into outright lies.
All three women testified they were being romantic with Ghomeshi when he briefly turned violent in incidents dating to 2002 and 2003. The identities of two of the women are protected by a publication ban. The first witness alleged Ghomeshi pulled her hair in his car and punched her in his home, Lucy DeCoutere alleged Ghomeshi choked and slapped her in his home, and the third witness alleged Ghomeshi put his hands over her mouth in a Toronto park.
All Horkins had to go on, not unusual in sexual-assault cases, was the complainants’ credibility, which Horkins denounced without mincing words.
“What is troubling is not the lack of clarity, but the shifting facts from one telling to the next,” Horkins said at one point during his hour-long decision. He was referring to DeCoutere’s testimony.
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