Out in the Open

'People were so angry': The public — and the very personal — impact of the Jian Ghomeshi trial

OITO delves into the impact of the Jian Ghomeshi trial with criminal lawyer Ingrid Grant and complainant Lucy DeCoutere
Lucy DeCoutere leaves the Toronto courthouse escorted by police following the reading of the verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial on Thursday, March 24, 2016. DeCoutere was one three women who accused Ghomeshi of sexual assault, and the only one to go public with her accusations. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

The trial of the year was over by March, with a verdict of not guilty — but its impact still lingers.

We hear from complainant Lucy DeCoutere about what her life's been like post-trial. "I didn't go out a lot. I felt really stripped," she tells Piya. "I couldn't handle anyone touching me."

Asked for her big-picture view, she says: "The legal system is not set up to deal with cases which are as nuanced as intimate-partner violence and sexual assault. It isn't."

"Personally, it's not been worth it, the years that I've lost to this," she adds.

Justice William B. Horkins, centre, reads his decision in the trial of Jian Ghomeshi, at left, as Ghomeshi's lawyer, Marie Henein, at right, looks on. (Pam Davies)

We also check in with criminal lawyer Ingrid Grant to find out whether the public cry for change in how the justice system handles sexual assault cases has resulted in any actual change — and whether, in fact, that kind of change is what's needed.

"The system is already doing a pretty good job," Ingrid tells Piya. "I think that activists, at times, do a disservice by suggesting to complainants that the system is worse than it really is, and suggesting don't come forward because you will be mistreated and you will be abused. In my experience, that's simply not the case."

Out in the Open sent interview requests to both Jian Ghomeshi and his lawyer in the case, Marie Henein, to talk about what the case meant for them. Marie Henein declined to be interviewed. We did not receive a response from Jian Ghomeshi.