Sexual assault trial of former Canadian radio host begins

AP News
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Posted: Feb 01, 2016 7:02 PM
Sexual assault trial of former Canadian radio host begins

TORONTO (AP) — The first witness at the sexual assault trial of former Canadian Broadcast Corp. radio host testified Monday that he was charming before he suddenly went into a rage, pulling her hair and punching her, 13 years ago.

Jian Ghomeshi has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. He has said he had consensual "rough sex" with women. He is the former host of "Q," a popular radio show on culture that was heard across Canada and on many public stations in the U.S.

Police launched an investigation in 2014 after nine women contacted various media sources to report incidents of assault and sexual assault involving Ghomeshi. The allegations rocked Canada's vaunted public broadcaster

The trial began Monday, and the name of the first witness is subject to a publication ban. She said she met Ghomeshi in late 2002 while she was a server at a CBC party and then went to a taping of his then-television show "Play." After going for a drink she said he took her to his yellow Volkswagen Beetle where after kissing her he pulled her hair violently for two to three seconds.

Despite that, she said, she went to two more tapings of his show and accepted an invitation to his home. She said after kissing him he pulled her hair again, yanked her to her knees and punched her on the side of the head. She said her ears were ringing and she was terrified.

"He didn't apologize, he didn't ask if I was OK," she testified. "He threw me out like trash."

She said she didn't go to the police at the time because she didn't know that she could and didn't think anyone would listen. She said she went to the police more than a decade later, after police encouraged women to come forward.

In her cross examination, Marie Henein, Ghomeshi's lawyer, questioned why she didn't go police right away and went over media interviews, police interviews and testimony and raised inconsistent details. Henein said Ghomeshi didn't own a VW Beetle at the time.

"What I saw was what I saw," the woman responded. "It looked like that to me."

The woman, then a 41-year-old mother who worked part time jobs as a server and makeup artist, said she never saw Ghomeshi again after the second incident.

Ghomeshi, who first gained fame as a member of the 1990s satirical pop band Moxy Fruvous, previously defended his actions in a 1,500-word statement on Facebook, saying women consented to having "rough sex" and that he's the victim of a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. The CBC fired him.

One of the women who contacted police was actress Lucy DeCoutere, a star of the long-running TV and film series "Trailer Park Boys." DeCoutere was the first woman to speak on the record about her allegations against Ghomeshi. DeCoutere said she went on a date with him and alleges that when they returned to his home, he pressed her up against a wall, choked her and slapped her across the face several times.

The trial resumes Tuesday.