Jian Ghomeshi trial: Complainant agreed to date and sexual encounter after alleged assault

A woman who claims Jian Ghomeshi squeezed her neck and covered her mouth so she couldn't breathe failed to disclose to police that she had a consensual sexual encounter with the former CBC host in the days after the alleged sexual assault, court heard today.

'I just felt his hands around my neck, all around my neck,' woman tells court

Jian Ghomeshi faces his second week in a Toronto courtroom, on trial for four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, all related to alleged assaults on three women from 2002 to 2003. (David Donelly/CBC)

A woman who claims Jian Ghomeshi squeezed her neck and covered her mouth so she couldn't breathe failed to disclose to police that she had a consensual sexual encounter with the former CBC host in the days after the alleged sexual assault, court heard today.

The complainant, who can't be identified because of a publication ban, told police just days ago that Ghomeshi had gone back to her home after a dinner date where they "messed around" and she masturbated him. The woman had not mentioned those details in her initial 2014 statement to police. 

​Ghomeshi, 48, who lives in Toronto, has pleaded not guilty in provincial court to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, all related to alleged assaults from 2002 to 2003. A judge alone is hearing the case.

Under questioning from Crown attorney Michael Callaghan, the third complainant to testify said she never told police about the date she had with Ghomeshi because she was never specifically asked and that she didn't think it was relevant to the alleged assault.

She also added that she didn't disclose the intimate activity with Ghomeshi because "a sexual encounter with somebody is embarrassing."

New information

She testified that she provided the new information after she inadvertently heard that emails had been unveiled in a report about the trial on CBC Radio.

Court heard last week that the second complainant, actor Lucy DeCoutere, had failed to initially tell police about her further correspondences with Ghomeshi, including a series of emails, following her alleged assault.

The woman was supposed to be avoiding media reports about the trial. 

During cross-examination, Ghomeshi's lawyer Marie Henein seized on the new details the woman had told police.

"I'm going to suggest to you that the only reason you have finally told the truth is because you thought you were going to be caught out," Henein said.

The woman disagreed, saying she didn't want the Crown to be blindsided by something she had omitted.

The witness said she contacted her lawyer days ago to let the Crown and police know she had more details to provide, because she figured it was going to come out and that "it has to be everything or nothing."

Henein accused the woman of lying to police in her initial statement, pointing out that she told police then she would only be in a public setting with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault.

"It was an omission," the woman said.

"You tell the police that the extent of it is we're going to be in public right," Henein countered.

"You do not say to them, 'he did come over to my house, we were not in public,' right?

"Right," the woman said.

"So that is a lie," Henein said.

"Sure," the woman said. 

Woman recounts alleged assault

Earlier, under questioning by Callaghan, the woman, who said she knew Ghomeshi in passing, recounted the events leading up to the alleged assault. She said she saw Ghomeshi in July 2003 at a dance festival at a Toronto park where she was performing.

She said she was talking to teenagers when Ghomeshi came up behind her and rested his elbows on her shoulders. When asked how they knew each other, Ghomeshi replied, "We are engaged," court heard.

Some time very soon after that, although she was unclear exactly when, she said she went on a dinner date with Ghomeshi.

One or two days later, after one of her performances, she said she walked with Ghomeshi to a nearby baseball diamond, sat on a bench, and began "making out" with him.

She said while they were kissing, she felt his hand on her shoulder, his teeth on her neck, and then his hands around her neck, squeezing it.

"I just felt his hands around my neck, all around my neck," she said.

She said then his hand went on her mouth and was "sort of smothering me."

She said both actions made it difficult for her to breathe.

"There was nothing about this that I wanted to be part of. It didn't feel safe or sexy," she testified.

The woman told Callaghan that they had not discussed this type of behaviour before and that she did not consent to it.

She said neither said anything about the alleged assault and that at some point she got up, left and took a cab home.

However, the woman said that sometime soon after, she met Ghomeshi again for a date, went to a bar and dinner with him, and that she invited Ghomeshi back to her place.

'Maybe I misread it'

Callaghan asked why she would see him after the assault.

"What were you thinking?" he asked

"Well ... what was I thinking? ... He would have called me. He's very charming you know and you second guess yourself, you think, oh well, he's calling he wants to go out to dinner he's being really nice saying all these great things. Maybe I misread it. Maybe if I give him another chance. Maybe it will be different," the witness testified.

The prosecutor asked the woman if she engaged in any kind of romantic activity with Ghomeshi at her home, and she said she did.

Callaghan asked the woman if she was concerned about being alone with Ghomeshi in a romantic context following the incident at the park.

She said she was, but that she is "notoriously" known for giving "second chances, and third and fourth."

The witness said she next saw Ghomeshi at a party, but the two got into an argument in his car when he started criticizing her best friend, telling the woman her friend was too controlling.

She said she got angry, got out of the car and told him to lose her number and not call her again.

She said Ghomeshi called one other time soon after, in August, when she was in Vancouver. The woman said she repeated what she had told him in the car. 

She said she only saw Ghomeshi at industry events after that. Asked if she would go out of her way to see Ghomeshi, she said "not to my knowledge."

Invited Ghomeshi to events

Henein pointed out that the woman had sent a couple of emails to Ghomeshi inviting him to events, including a stag. The woman said those emails were in a professional capacity, that she was starting up an artist management company and that Ghomeshi's presence at these events would be beneficial.

Henein also focused on the woman's friendship with DeCoutere, noting that the two had exchanged 5,000 messages over a year.

Court heard the third complainant hired the same publicist and lawyer as DeCoutere. Although she initially told Callaghan she did not discuss her specific allegations against Ghomeshi with DeCoutere, she later recanted under cross-examination, and agreed she had.

The woman also agreed she had spoken to DeCoutere about Ghomeshi's court dates, had exchanged insults about Ghomeshi and that both reported to each other about their discussions with the Crown.