Thursday, March 24, 2016

No Surprise, Ghomeshi Aquitted

This trial will be remembered as a pinnacle of prosecutorial and investigatorial incompetence.

Ghomeshi has been acquitted of all charges. He is a free man.

Will he again climb the ranks of Canadian celebrity? Let's hope not. We have seen the grubby side of this character. He's lost his carefully cultivated image.

That said, you can't begrudge him his acquittal. That he deserved.


Kirbycairo said...

How many sexual assaults will go unreported because of this acquittal? As long as women can rely on the fact that they will be treated, at best, as "unreliable witnesses," and at worst something considerably nastier, they will continue to be reluctant to come forward. And as long as judges fail to understand that victims of sexual assault are traumatized in ways that compel them to act significantly differently from victims of other crimes, they will continue to fail victims in signifiant ways.

The Mound of Sound said...

C'mon, Kirby. These women, all three of them it seems, withheld critical evidence of their relationships with Ghomeshi after the alleged sexual assaults.

Read the verdict. These women left the judge no other choice than to acquit. If you took another case, let's say no women involved, and the three complainants undermined their own credibility in a similar manner, you would expect the accused to be acquitted and no one would be grousing about it.

What you're saying, effectively, is that this involved sexual assault against three women and, therefore, it doesn't matter that they withheld contradictory evidence in a case where, as the judge notes, there was no extrinsic or physical evidence to go on, just the credibility of the complainants. Always remember the presumption of innocence and the standard of reasonable doubt.

This wasn't even a case of his word against theirs. Ghomeshi didn't testify nor did his counsel call any rebuttal witnesses. This case rested entirely on the mortally wounded credibility of the complainants. Those were self-inflicted wounds at that.

Anonymous said...

Kirby: If you are positing that this verdict will change the behaviour of victims, then why not also ask whether it might just encourage a few to report the crime to relevant authorities earlier? Or to act in ways that might not undermine their testimony?

Dana said...

Things might have gone differently had the prosecution introduced the allegedly "tainted" testimony themselves along with expert testimony to explain how and why further contact could be pursued post assault.

That the defense brought it out on post/in their case automatically makes it appear that certain facts were being deliberately withheld, either through deception or incompetence.

Reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the Mound. Being accused does not make you guilty. However, also note that, as the judge pointed out, being acquitted is not the same as being declared innocent. It just indicates an unacceptable lack of veracity and therefore credibility on the part of the accusers in this particular case. Anyone accused of anything should hope and expect for that standard to apply. The presumption of innocence in the absence of compelling and believable evidence to the contrary, beyond reasonable doubt, is fundamental to our justice system.

Kirbycairo said...

C'mon Mound! I read the verdict, fairly carefully. It doesn't change my point. Survivors aren't going to be influenced by the details of the verdict. To many people the entire incident will be just another brick in the wall of the 'credibility' of victims being attacked and torn down which will help to dissuade victims from coming forward.

Your presumption of innocence argument is a red herring. Let me explain why I think that is. It would be much more in line with evidence based judgment for judges to comprehend how the trauma of sexual assault changes the behaviors of victims. Remember, there was a time when regardless of any evidence, the sexual history of rape victims was dragged into court and people thought that was legitimate. When, people moved to prohibit the use of sexual history in court, lots of people said, like you have here, that this was an attack on the presumption of innocence because it restricted the accused's ability to mount a proper defence. Well, we have put paid to that through time and the testimony of experts to the contrary. And the attack on credibility of witnesses of sexual assault based on their 'uncharacteristic" reaction, their trauma and their anger will also change with time. Reacting to and reporting a sexual assault is very different from reacting to and reporting, say, the theft of a car. But witness and/or victims of both crimes are treated more or less the same, and they shouldn't be. Your phrase "self-inflicted wounds" is very typical of an attitude and justice system that, whether you want to admit it or not, is biased against women and treats victims of sexual assault in radically problematic ways. The failure to admit that the justice system is biased in its treatment of women who have been the victim of sexual assault is part of the deep denial in our society of systemic sexism in our culture. Of course they withheld evidence of their relationships, after the assaults. This is perfectly in character with sexual assault trauma! People often don't even understand what has happened to them for months, sometimes years, after the fact. They have trouble remembering details and often blame themselves for a long time.

One only needs to study how male victims of sexual assault are treated radically differently to understand what is actually going on. In many case men who were sexually assaulted as youths have taken year and years to come forward, yet their credibility is never questioned, the time lapse is never questioned, and they often get convictions without a shred of physical evidence.

The Mound of Sound said...

If these additional facts had been known to the Crown in advance there might never have been a trial. If, however, the Crown did elect to proceed with charges the prosecution would have brought out these facts and, as Dana noted, some expert evidence to explain them. No judge can assume, as you do, that such things are "perfectly in character with sexual assault trauma." This is a court of law, Kirby, not a coffee shop.

rumleyfips said...

Kirby: The complainants had a choice ; lie or tell the truth. My takeaway from following the liveblogs of their testimony is that they were afraid that if they told the truth, he would not be convicted. I also think that the cross examination was quite gentle. The defense could have been much more aggressive.

Gyor said...

Your right, it better to punish an innocent man, so we can encourage more false allegations!

Why bother with trials when we can use the Cardassian system, where your found guilty before the trial.

Let's see how you feel when its your innocent Son who is convicted and sent to prison based on nothing, but an accusation.

I will add that guilty until proven innocent is unconstitutional, also giving greater weight to a women's testimony, irreguardless of iregularities, for no other reason then her gender is discrimination based on gender again, a charter violation.

Also try actually looking at what Ghoneshi was charged with.

No rape, hell no intercourse, they admit the kissing was consentual, a tiny brief bit of rough stuff, minor stuff like hair pulling which many people enjoy, male and female.

At no point have they accused Ghomeshi of having ignored their requests to stop. In fact there is evidence that they went after another helping.

So never mind the poor memories, out right lies they got caught in, or the collobration between accusers.

If everything went on as described by the accusers, Ghomeshi is still INNOCENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, because the accusations in no way resemble sexual assault in the real world.

Ghomeshi could have maybe communicated a bit better, in no way does that justify a conviction nor does it justify prison time.

I still know people who think Ghomeshi raped these women, such is the gravity that this trial has treated as.

Anonymous said...

Another man gets away with his obscene behavior.

Gyor said...

The original rape shield laws were in fact repealed BECAUSE they found to in fact VIOLATE DUE PROCESS, they had to rewrite them so that if the accused sexual history was found to be relavant to case by a judge, it is admissible.

Second the effect that this could have on other women making accusations can and should have absolutely no bearing on this case as it has no bearing on Ghomeshi's innocence or guilt, which is whole point of the trial, not what hypothetical unproven effect this could have on completely uninvovled people.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 12:33. Ghomeshi didn't really "get away." The thing that mattered most, his celebrity, he has forfeited. Maybe he'll get a shot on some rabid-right, open-mouth radio station where he can depict himself as a victim of political correctness gone wild and a gang of women who thought they could exploit a situation but that's about it. His fall from grace is irreparable.

Anonymous said...

Charismatic men treating serial girlfriends like disposable items, serial girlfriends clinging to charismatic men despite rough treatment...
P.S. This case is eerily similar to Assange's problems

Anonymous said...

I heard the prosecutor interviewed tonight. He pointed out that it is not the Crown's job to lead an investigation, nor to be on the side of the defendant - they represent society at large at trial.

It is the job of the police to investigate and gather the evidence the prosecution use in court. If the defendant(s) change their story from what they told police earlier when questioned as witness(es) at trial, it is neither the police nor the Crown prosecutor's fault. It is the fault of the witnesses for withholding information they should have told the police prior to trial in the first place.

So all the placard wavers and most of the "experts" I heard on CBC Radio opining about this and that and decrying the judge's actual words should learn some basic civics. Reforming this and that will not change the fundamentals of how trials are conducted in the system we have. So all plaintiffs should understand their responsibilities in providing clear, complete and non-varying evidence when being debriefed by police, not argue that some special law should be made just for them, because someone "got away with it". That is intellectual nonsense.

To get down to the particular, sure, in the case of sexual assault, people may well be confused at first, hardly surprising due to incredible shock, but will eventually have a reasonably coherent recollection. Or the case would never proceed to trial.

In this case, after ten years, suddenly revealing on the witness stand new evidence or "forgetting" about further correspondence with Ghomeshi after the date of the alleged assault, seems consistent with somehow thinking they were on a US TV courtroom drama show instead of facing the reality of a real courtroom. Or something equally inexplicable. So, their likely assaulter indeed got away with it, and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Boris said...

This is a hell of a thing.

I wonder if he was found guilty, what kind of legal reasoning could be applied to support it. It's also curious to note that the alleged assaults themselves were never openly questioned, only the accusers' general credibility. I'm left wondering if it could then be established that regardless of their other testimony and accounts of events, were they credible on the single issue of the assaults?

This is such a sensitive issue that it is very difficult to have a coherent conversation. At the very least it highlights the maybe intractable difficulty the legal system has around sex crimes. It also points toward the need for adequate workplace harassment policies and redress mechanisms.

I'm not worried about Gomeshi reinventing himself. If he dips his toe anywhere public, the internet will be on him like piranhas.

the salamander said...

.. my humble impression is perhaps more 'McLuhanesqe' - Even as we, the courtroom 'audience' watched & read of the case unravelling. Ghomeshi was more and more revealed - repeatedly. The three witnesses ultimately succeeded while losing - Ghomeshi & his Defense Team got the classic phyrric victory.

Live tweeting from the courtroom was staggering - we truly do not yet know the exposure & effect of this revolution..

Also, the live tweeting & Twitter intercourse brought out the social perspectives.. the haters, the bigots.. defenders, observers, the curious, the stakeholders. Society benefits by getting an unsual look at the polarization, the language of Ghomeshi defenders & their tawdriness, obstinacy etc..

Oh .. As well.. we the 'audience' got an in depth education on certain aspects of contemporary 'romantic behaviour' - the crude smug 'mating' behaviour of Ghomeshi - the surprising response of some women to such dark erratic preliminaries & narcissism..

Dana said...

There seems to be a minority opinion emerging that implies something along the lines of 'women accusing men of sexual assault are always telling the truth and must not be questioned in court'.

Thus in accusations of male sexual assault against women there should be no more right to face or question one's accuser and in point of fact there is to be no more presumption of innocence.

So when a woman is accused of sexually assaulting another woman which woman should be automatically presumed to be telling the truth?

Some of the stuff I've read, in a couple of cases coming from people whose opinions I usually have a lot of time for, is torturously convoluted and opaque.