Lucy DeCoutere, one of three complainants in the Jian Ghomeshi case, told supporters Thursday she was "overwhelmed" by their support after a judge acquitted Ghomeshi on all five counts he was facing.
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DeCoutere, the only complainant whose identity is not protected by a publication ban, was silent as she left the Old City Hall courthouse after the judge read his decision acquitting Ghomeshi of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. DeCoutere smiled as police led her through a crush of reporters, but said nothing.
But as protesters marched from the courthouse to Toronto police headquarters on Thursday evening, DeCoutere thanked them for their support.
"I'm very overwhelmed and at a loss for words," she said before a cheer went up from the crowd.
"When the story first broke … there was a wave of correspondence that came from various folks who were saying that they believed me, but it was believing survivors. It was entirely heart-cracking and overwhelming and so intensely humbling."
Complainant number one, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, also spoke at the rally. Beforehand, she told CBC News that despite the judge's belief that the three women were not always truthful in their testimony, "I did not lie. And it felt as though he didn't have a good grasp on how people's memory works."
Earlier in the day, her lawyer, Jacob Jesin, read a brief statement on her behalf.
"I was never invested in the outcome of the verdict. For me, this journey allowed me to face Mr. Ghomeshi and tell my story publicly for the first time. I always understood that a conviction would be difficult," Jesin read.
"While my story may not have passed the high legal test for proof, it remains my position that the evidence of the substantive issues is truthful. I am disappointed that his honour did not note in the decision that I was mostly unchallenged about the substantive allegation."
The complainant went on to encourage victims of abuse "to come forward, seek assistance and not be afraid of what may happen.
"While the process is undoubtedly difficult, it is nevertheless worthwhile and empowering. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I can now move on."
A 'profoundly difficult period' for Ghomeshi
Late Thursday evening, Ghomeshi's legal team issued a statement, saying their client had been "rightly acquitted" of the charges he faced.
"Notwithstanding the unprecedented scrutiny and pressure, the case was determined on the evidence heard in a court of law. In our system of justice, that is what must happen in every case regardless of who is accused or what crime is alleged. That is precisely what occurred in this case," read the statement from 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."
'Punishment' without a verdict
Shortly after Judge William Horkins read his decision, Ghomeshi's sister read a statement on behalf of their family. Jila Ghomeshi said she had to watch her brother endure "punishment" without a verdict or due process for over a year.
Speaking briefly outside the Old City Hall courthouse, Jila said she and her mother "love Jian very much."
"Our hardest burden has been our feeling of helplessness as we have watched him endure a punishment that was delivered not only prior to a verdict, but prior to any semblance of due process for well over a year," she said.
"It has been extremely painful for those of us who love him," she said, adding that her brother "remained the person that we know and love."
She asked for privacy for her family to "slowly heal from a process that has been extremely difficult."
When she began speaking, Ghomeshi first noted that she and her mother "are not speaking as, for or against women but as members of a close family."