Jian Ghomeshi and Lucy DeCoutere cuddled in park after alleged assault, trial hears

Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer grilled actress Lucy DeCoutere, who claims she was choked and slapped by the former CBC radio host, about her contact with him after the alleged assault, which included kissing him goodnight, having brunch, and taking a walk and cuddling with him in the park the following day.

Marie Henein suggests witness has kept hidden details about contact with Ghomeshi

Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer unveiled in court a picture of Lucy DeCoutere and Ghomeshi cuddling in the park a day after he allegedly assaulted her.

Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer grilled actress Lucy DeCoutere, who claims she was choked and slapped by the former CBC radio host, about her contact with him after the alleged assault, which included kissing him goodnight, having brunch, and taking a walk and cuddling with him in a park the following day.

But Marie Henein ended the day with dramatic flair, suggesting that DeCoutere has kept hidden details about other contact she had with Ghomeshi following the alleged assault.

Henein asked DeCoutere if she wanted to tell the court "the real conversation, the one that you have not told anybody, even today, even when you met with police." 

"Do you want to take a moment and tell the truth of the real conversation that was going on. Not the one you've been reporting to the media, not the one in the press releases, do you want to tell his honour the real conversation that was going on?"

"I'm not sure what you mean," DeCoutere replied.

At that point, Henein said it would be a good time to break for the day. 

​Ghomeshi, 48, who lives in Toronto, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, all related to alleged assaults from 2002 to 2003. The identities of the two other complainants in the case are protected under a publication ban, but DeCoutere, also an air force captain, went to court to lift the ban on her name.

Earlier, Henein had challenged DeCoutere on details she had left out in her statements to the media and the police about her actions after the alleged assault.

Lucy DeCoutere testifies in a Toronto courtroom at the trial of Jian Ghomeshi. (Sketch by Pam Davies)

DeCoutere told court today that she sat on the couch with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault and kissed him, and that she kissed him goodnight.

Normalize the situation

DeCoutere said kissing Ghomeshi on the sofa didn't seem consequential, which is why she didn't tell police.

"Kissing the man who just assaulted you and tried to choke you and slapped you was inconsequential?" Henein asked.

"Yes," DeCoutere said, insisting that she was trying to normalize the situation.

DeCoutere also testified that she had brunch with Ghomeshi the next day and then went to a barbeque with him the day after that.

Henein pointed out that the two had also gone for a walk in the park the next day and showed DeCoutere pictures of her cuddling with Ghomeshi.

"That's you cuddling Mr. Ghomeshi? "Henein asked.

"Yes," DeCoutere replied.

"And that's the man you said earlier had choked and slapped you," Henein asked.

"Oh he definitely choked and slapped me," DeCoutere said.

"This is you making sure he feels like a good host and normalizing the situation. Is that your evidence?" Henein asked.

"Yes, that's my evidence, that I was trying to normalize something that was so strange."

DeCoutere said she didn't remember those pictures being taken or cuddling with Ghomeshi in the park.

"Is it possible you have a convenient memory?" Henein asked.

"No I don't have a convenient memory," she said.

DeCoutere also acknowledged she had received a fair amount of publicity from going public about the alleged assault, and that her Twitter followers had spiked by 25,000. 

Henein pointed out that DeCoutere was considering herself a national spokesperson for assault and that she once told a friend that she was to sexual assault what David Beckham was to Armani underwear.

DeCoutere responded that it was a "terrible analogy."

Couldn't breathe

Earlier, under questioning from Crown attorney Corie Langdon, DeCoutere recounted her first meeting with Ghomeshi, whom she said she met at a Banff, Alta., television festival in June 2003. She said she maintained a playful correspondence with him. They would exchange emails, she said, some that included salacious and "bawdy" humour, and slang terms for sexual acts, but that it was all meant in fun and not to be acted upon.

DeCoutere, who lives in Halifax, said she visited Toronto in July 2003 and went out to dinner with Ghomeshi, in part to see if a romantic relationship would develop.

She said after dinner they walked back to Ghomeshi's home. She said she knew there was a chance they might get intimate, but she had no interest in having sex with him.

'Shocking when someone hits your face'

Ghomeshi gave her a tour of the house, she said, and at one point he started kissing her, took her by the throat, choked her, slapped her twice, paused, then slapped her a third time.

"All I could register was not being able to breathe and shock, surprise," DeCoutere said in the Ontario Court of Justice.

"It's pretty shocking when someone hits your face. I've never really had that happen before."

Langdon asked DeCoutere how much pressure Ghomeshi applied on her throat.

"Enough that I couldn't breathe," she said.

Ghomeshi leaves court after his third day on trial. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Langdon asked DeCoutere if she consented to Ghomeshi pushing her against the wall.

"It's impossible to consent to something you're not asked, so no I didn't consent to it."

"Did you consent to him hitting you, slapping you," Langdon asked.

"No, same answer."

DeCoutere said neither she nor Ghomeshi said anything about the incident and that she remained at his home a bit longer, listening to music and him play guitar.

'It's outrageous that … I didn't just leave'

She said she stayed because she didn't have any idea how to react to the alleged assault, that she didn't want to anger him or seem rude, hoping to placate the situation.

"It's outrageous that I stayed and I didn't just leave. But that was my reaction."

"I was thinking maybe this assault was a one-off. Everyone makes gaffes."

Asked why she would continue to spend time with him, DeCoutere said she had promised she would and repeated that she had hoped the incident was a one-time event.

Sent Ghomeshi flowers

DeCoutere said she sent flowers to Ghomeshi when she returned to Halifax and thanked him for being a good tour guide.

She continued to stay in touch with Ghomeshi, running into him at industry events. The next time she said she saw him was at the Gemini Awards, where she said he was making references to jokes they had made in the summer.

"And then at a certain point, he put his hand on my throat to remind me he had choked me. And I was totally shocked," DeCoutere said.

She said she saw him other times after that, including the Banff television festival in 2004 where he joined in on her karaoke performance of Hit Me Baby One More Time.

She said she also later appeared on Q as her character on Trailer Park Boys.

DeCoutere said she never called police about the alleged assault because she didn't think what happened qualified as an assault. 

"I thought you had to be broken and raped," she testified.

She said she only went to Toronto police after they made a plea for women who had information in relation to the allegations against Ghomeshi to come forward.