Private hearing over new evidence at Ghomeshi trial


TORONTO – The judge in the trial of Jian Ghomeshi is holding a closed-door hearing to deal with new evidence that came to light over the weekend.

The hearing was requested by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, who said the third complainant expected to testify against the disgraced broadcaster gave a statement to police on Friday that was not fully disclosed to the defence until Sunday.

Marie Henein explained that the woman was in the courthouse last Tuesday waiting to be called to testify and did not at that time make any attempts to give a new statement to the Crown or to police.

Late last week, however, Henein said that changed.

“She indicated that she had been listening to the news, contrary to your Honour’s order, and as a result of what she had heard, her lawyer contacted the Crown late Thursday night and on Friday morning (the complainant) gave the police statement,” Henein told Justice William Horkins.

The new statement was not disclosed to the defence until Sunday, Henein said, and more new information was added early Monday morning.

“I confess that the constant late-breaking changes make me feel like I’m in the twilight zone,” Henein said. “But my instructions are to proceed and so I need to address this in the most efficient way that I can.”

Henein called the new developments in the case “disturbing for a number of reasons.”

Crown Michael Callaghan said there was no attempt to mislead the defence, adding that the Crown gave the defence a summary of the new information on Friday and disclosed all of it on Sunday.

The developments came at the start of the second week of Ghomeshi’s trial, which has been progressing faster than anticipated.

The 48-year-old former CBC Radio star was charged with four counts of sexual assault, and one count of overcome resistance by choking, which he has pleaded not guilty to.

He acknowledged in 2014 that he engaged in rough sex acts, but said it was consensual.

Last week, the court heard from former actress Lucy DeCoutere, the only one of the three complainants in the case who can be publicly named.

Ghomeshi’s lawyer launched an intense cross-examination of DeCoutere over emails sent to the former CBC host.

One of them, sent a few hours after DeCoutere alleges Ghomeshi assaulted her, expressed a desire to have sex with him.

But DeCoutere said that doesn’t change the fact that Ghomeshi suddenly started choking and slapping her while they were kissing in his bedroom in the summer of 2003.

Before DeCoutere’s testimony, the trial heard from the first complainant in the case who alleged Ghomeshi suddenly yanked on her hair while they were kissing in his car, and on another night, pulled her hair and punched her in the head while they were kissing in his living room.

The trial first heard that the woman didn’t contact Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults, save for perhaps writing him an angry email, which she said she may or may not have sent.

But Henein then produced two friendly emails from the woman to Ghomeshi, sent months after the alleged assaults, one of which included a picture of the woman in a bikini.

The woman said she sent the emails to Ghomeshi as “bait,” hoping he would contact her so she could demand an explanation for the alleged assaults. But she added that she hadn’t remembered them when she spoke to police or to Crown prosecutors.