Lack of credibility, inconsistencies and “odd behavior” were some of the words Justice William Horkins used when rendering his verdict.
The trial lasted 8 days and was more about assassinating the character of the witnesses than proving Ghomeshi’s guilt–they were scrutinized, shamed and blamed, not him. The outcome is not so much about whether he’s guilty or not, but more about the witnesses not being credible or able to clearly remember details of what happened more than 10 years ago.
I was the victim of violence once, long ago. I can honestly tell you that I remember very little detail of what happened to me. I spent years forgetting. When dealing with trauma, survival instincts oftentimes take over. Initially, the brain goes on overdrive, tries to make sense of it all. “What did I do? How did this happen to me? Was I too provocative? Was it something I said?” Those are the thoughts that race through your mind. You blame yourself. You may even want to talk to your assailant to try to find some logic in it all.
But there is no logic.
Eventually, the brain runs a “defrag” and tries to get rid of all the painful bits and pieces that prevent you from moving on with your life. You forget. It’s a basic coping mechanism.
Incidentally, the very thing that stopped me from pressing charges in my case was the idea of experiencing a similar ordeal than the one Ms. De Coutere went through.
I am not saying Ghomeshi is guilty. I don’t know the guy. I never will. I couldn’t care less. But here is what I do know.
The notion of innocent until proven guilty is faulty at best when it comes to crimes of a sexual nature, and it will remain that way for as long as we keep putting the victims on trial. Every year, in Canada, 460,000 sexual assaults take place. Only 0.3% end up in a conviction. That does not mean the assault didn’t occur, it simply means that without the possibility of questioning the accused–most won’t testify–, in a scenario between two adults where there may or may not be rough play involved, and where consent may be established one moment but revoked the next, it is extremely difficult to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
Marie Henein did great at building such reasonable doubt. She did her job to the very best or her abilities. She’s good. We should commend that, not turn around and say that she betrayed all women. It’s not personal. It’s business.
In the end, the evidence was not compelling enough to warrant a conviction. If Ghomeshi is guilty and walked away, it’s ok. Now that this issue was brought to light, caution will be exercised. If he is innocent, then justice was served. But I feel for the guy who’s reputation is now tarnished forever.
Our constitutionally-based criminal justice system places a high value on protecting the innocent. Among its central tenets is the idea that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to convict someone without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. –Robert Shapiro
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