Police probe ex-CBC host in sex assault case

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) — Police have begun an investigation of a prominent former Canadian Broadcast Corp. radio host on sexual assault charges after three women filed complaints against him.

Toronto police sex crimes Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins told a news conference Saturday that her unit “has now commenced an active investigation” into the allegations of assault and sexual assault against former CBC star radio host Jian Ghomeshi. The allegations by the three women and several others by unnamed women in media reports rocked the Canadian public broadcaster, a vaunted Canadian institution.

CBC fired Ghomeshi last weekend. On Friday, CBC said his firing was prompted by the emergence of “graphic” evidence that he had caused physical injury to a person.

Ghomeshi defended his actions in a 1,500- word statement on Facebook last weekend, saying he had consensual “rough sex” with women and is the victim of a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. After the Toronto Star reported several more allegations days later, Ghomeshi posted that he would confront the allegations “directly,” but wouldn’t discuss them with the media.

Beaven-Desjardins urged other women Saturday to come forward and said they want anyone with evidence such as video or photographs to contact them.

“When you have one or more people giving the same story, and the lack of consent, then that’s definitely showing a pattern,” Beaven-Desjardins said.

Beaven-Desjardins said that after she read that nine victims had contacted various media sources to report incidents of assault and sexual assault involving Ghomeshi, she assigned investigators to contact the media outlets and encourage the alleged victims to contact police. “As of today’s date three people have contacted us providing us information that they have been victimized,” Beaven-Desjardins said.

Publicist Andrea Grau confirmed Friday that 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, who also serves as a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was the first woman who made allegations against Ghomeshi to speak on the record about her experience. DeCoutere told the Toronto Star that 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. Author and lawyer Reva Seth became the second woman to go public, writing in the Huffington Post that Ghomeshi put his hands around her throat and sexually assaulted her, although it was not known if she was one of the women who filed a complaint to police against Ghomeshi.

None of the allegations from any of the women have been proven. Neither Ghomeshi nor his lawyers immediately responded to a request for comment on the police investigation.

Beaven-Desjardins said the investigation is in its early stages and Ghomeshi will be invited to talk to police.

Ghomeshi, 47, has hosted “Q”, a CBC radio show on culture, since 2007. “Q” is also broadcast on many radio stations in the United States. Ghomeshi gained prominence for his 2009 interview with actor Billy Bob Thorton, who gave a puzzling and difficult interview. Thornton evaded simple questions and criticized Ghomeshi for mentioning his movie background. Thornton appeared on the show with his band, the Boxmasters. Video of the interview went viral.

After he was fired, Ghomeshi launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. He has also filed a grievance alleging dismissal without proper cause.

The CBC has hired an independent investigator to look at its handling of the situation after at least one former employee said she had complained about his behavior to a union representative, who spoke to Ghomeshi’s executive producer, but nothing substantive was done.

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