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Final Sexual Assault Charge Withdrawn Against Former CBC Host Jian Ghomeshi

Jian Ghomeshi (left) leaves the courthouse with lawyer Marie Henein  (right) after his trial arguments ended in February for a separate case also involving accusations of assault.
Carlos Osorio
Toronto Star via Getty Images
Jian Ghomeshi (left) leaves the courthouse with lawyer Marie Henein (right) after his trial arguments ended in February for a separate case also involving accusations of assault.

Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi has signed a legal document called a "peace bond" and apologized to a woman accusing him of sexual assault, leading a Canadian court to withdraw the charge against him.

These were the last criminal charges he faced following a high-profile series of assault accusations, CBC reports.

As we reported, a Canadian court acquitted Ghomeshi in March of "four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance to sexual assault by choking." Women's groups criticized the verdict, saying it would discourage survivors of assault from coming forward.

In this more recent case, a former colleague of Ghomeshi at CBC named Kathryn Borel accused him of repeatedly harassing her in the workplace. She pressed charges in 2014.

On the front steps of the court Wednesday, she describes one incident: "He came up behind me while I was standing at my desk, put his hands on my hips and rammed his pelvis against my backside over and over, simulating sexual intercourse."

She explained why she was prepared to forgo the trial:

"In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I have outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defense would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie – the lie that he was not guilty. And it would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop."

Ghomeshi delivered the apology in court as a requirement for signing the peace bond. "I did not always lead by example and I failed to understand and truly appreciate the impact of my conduct on Ms. Borel's work environment. That conduct in the workplace was sexually inappropriate," he said, according to a transcript posted by CBC. "I realize that there is no way for me to know the full impact on her personally and professionally."

In court documents, the Crown said: "By apologizing for his actions, Mr. Ghomeshi publicly accepts responsibility for them. Public acknowledgement of the harm done to Ms. Borel is a valuable consequence of this resolution."

A peace bond is a common way to resolve a criminal case in Canada, the CBC reports. It is "essentially an agreement to keep the peace and remain on good behaviour, follow the law and abide by any terms or conditions." The Toronto Star adds that Ghomeshi may not "contact Borel directly or indirectly and must not possess any weapons."

Additionally, a peace bond is "does not mean an admission of guilt or wrongdoing," Ghomeshi's lawyer Marie Henein said, according to the Star.

In a statement released by CBC after the end of the trial, Chuck Thompson, Head of Public Affairs said: "What Ms. Borel experienced in our workplace should never have happened and we sincerely apologize for what occurred."

Cynamin Maxwell from the Toronto Rape Crisis Center was not satisfied with the apology, the Star reports. "I don't know if there's any realness behind it other than for show," she said while demonstrating outside the court.

Borel notes that numerous other women have come forward with allegations against Ghomeshi:

"Jian Ghomeshi has apologized, but only to me. There are 20 other women who have come forward to the media and made serious allegations about his violent behavior. Women who have come forward to say he punched, and choked, and smothered, and silenced them. ... All he has said about his other accusers is that they're all lying and that he's not guilty. And remember, that's what he said about me."

Among them is Linda Redgrave, a complainant in the previous trial where Ghomeshi was acquitted, the Star reports. Standing outside the court, she said: "I would like to hear him admit that he did what he did and I would like to know why."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

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