CBC apologizes to Kathryn Borel over handling of Jian Ghomeshi complaint

The CBC has apologized to Kathryn Borel — a former employee who had accused former radio host Jian Ghomeshi of sexually assaulting her while at work — saying what happened to her "should never have happened."

Circumstances around Ghomeshi complaint 'should never have happened,' CBC says

CBC reacts to Ghomeshi case

7 years ago
Duration 5:02
Head of CBC public affairs is interviewed about today's developments

The CBC has apologized to Kathryn Borel — a former employee who had accused former radio host Jian Ghomeshi of sexually assaulting her while at work — saying what happened to her "should never have happened."

"As we said in April of 2015, the incidents that came to our attention as it relates to Mr. Ghomeshi's conduct in our workplace were simply unacceptable," Chuck Thompson, CBC's head of public affairs, said in a statement.

"We apologized then and we do again today."

According to allegations read in a Toronto courtroom Wednesday, Ghomeshi had grabbed Borel from behind at work in 2008 and ground his pelvis into her.

The 48-year-old former q host was charged one year ago in relation to the incident and was slated to stand trial in June.

Instead, Ghomeshi and Borel were both in court Wednesday as Ghomeshi signed a year-long peace bond, which led to the Crown withdrawing the single charge of sexual assault. A peace bond is not an admission of guilt.

Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court after signing a peace bond in Toronto on May 11, 2016. (Mark Blinch/CP)

After Wednesday's appearance, speaking outside on the courthouse steps, Borel offered some terse words about how the CBC handled her complaint.

"When I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him," she told reporters.

"The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity."

Speaking on the CBC News Network, Thompson said the corporation takes "full responsibility" for what happened and has taken steps to ensure a "safe and respectful" workplace.

"When we released the [Rubin] report back in April of 2015, we took responsibility for anything that surfaced in that report, and there was a lot. It was humiliating, it was humbling, it was disturbing, and we took it very seriously," he said.

Complainant Kathryn Borel, a former colleague of Jian Ghomeshi who accused him of sexually assaulting her, speaks to the media outside court. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

The Rubin report — conducted by independent investigator and Toronto employment lawyer Janice Rubin — found CBC failed to provide its staff with a workplace "free from disrespectful and abusive behaviour."

Rubin was hired to conduct the independent probe in the wake of Ghomeshi's firing on Oct. 26, 2014 after executives saw what they described as "graphic evidence" that he had physically injured a woman.

A scandal had erupted around the former radio host after multiple women came forward in the media with sex and assault allegations.

Nearly 100 CBC employees were interviewed for Rubin's report.

Safe, comfortable

Thompson said some of the steps taken in the wake of the report include bullying and harassment training, as well as the establishment of a confidential help line for CBC employees.

"We are — every day, from all aspects of the organization, wherever people work, whatever they do — ensuring that people can come to the CBC in a way that they feel safe and they feel comfortable."

Ghomeshi himself had also apologized to Borel in court Wednesday, saying he had "come to terms" with his "own deep regret and embarrassment."

"I now recognize that I crossed boundaries inappropriately. A workplace should not have any sexualized tone," Ghomeshi said, reading from prepared remarks.

"I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a co-worker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place."

With files from The Canadian Press