Former CBC Radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted of one charge of overcoming resistance by choking and four counts of sexual assault today.
Ontario Court Justice Williams Horkins wrote in his ruling that conviction required “proof beyond reasonable doubt” and that the testimony of Ghomeshi’s accusers had credibility issues.
“The harsh reality is that once a witness is shown to be deceptive and inconsistent, the court cannot have faith in complainants,” he wrote.
Three women testified against Ghomeshi, the identity of two of the complainants are protected under a publication ban, except for actress Lucy DeCoutere, who went to court to lift the ban on reporting her name.
The judge added that his acquittal did not mean that the events described in testimony did not occur: “My conclusion that the evidence in this case raises a reasonable doubt is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened.”
Ghomeshi’s trial began on February 1, 2016 and it lasted eight days.
Following the ruling, a statement was issued by Ghomeshi’s lawyers, Henein Hutchison LLP: “This has been a very long, exhausting and devastating 16 months for Mr. Ghomeshi. He will take time with his family and close friends to reflect and move forward from what can only be described as a profoundly difficult period in his life.”
A protest outside the courthouse followed Ghomeshi’s acquittal, along with a trending hashtag #WeBelieveSurvivors and #IBelieveWomen calling for justice reform regarding the rights of sex assault victims.
The Crown has 30 days to consider filing an appeal to the ruling.
Ghomeshi still faces one additional charge of sexual assault, which will be addressed at a trial in June 2016.