Toronto Police Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins confirmed this week that CBC radio show host Jian Ghomeshi is under formal investigation after dozens of accusations that he engaged in violent, sexual misconduct surfaced. Nine women have filed reports with their allegations, seven of whom have decided to remain anonymous due to fear of public backlash on social media and from Ghomeshi himself. Other women who dated him in the past have spoken to reporters, but have not filed reports. The police investigation follows on the heels of the Canadian radio host’s preemptive declaration on Facebook, calling the allegations the “result of a campaign of false allegations.”
Beaven-Desjardins stated that many victims are coming forward due to other people talking about Ghomeshi and bringing it back to the forefront of their lives. She also made sure to clarify that the allegations have not been proven yet and that they are seeking anyone who has information so that the investigation can move forward. She reiterated that currently, Ghomeshi “has not been convicted.”
Citing the privacy of his personal life, Ghomeshi turned to Facebook to defend himself against the accusations by claiming all situations were consensual and that the media clamor was caused by jilted ex-girlfriends. Insp. Beaven-Desjardins revealed that there may be “graphic” video of the radio host and another woman. Ghomeshi voluntarily showed his bosses at CBC the video in an attempt to share information with them, however, this led to his immediate termination with the company.
CBC released a statement concerning their decision which was made with “serious deliberation and careful consideration.” In response to being fired, Ghomeshi has filed a lawsuit seeking $55 million for breach of confidence and defamation, claiming he was unlawfully terminated. He is represented by the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), a union which places a high priority on respectful, toxic-free work environments. It is possible the union, its other members, and political supporters may take serious issue with the union supporting an alleged abuser. This could prompt CMG to decide against the grievance filing. Laws in Canada do not allow unionized members to sue their employers.
Because of the lawsuit, the CBC has reportedly hired a private investigator to determine if they handled the situation correctly, especially considering another former employees complaints prior to the termination. If the union rules against Ghomeshi during or after the time he is under investigation, he may still appeal to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to claim he has not been represented fairly by the union. Similar to his odds with the lawsuit, there is a very slim chance that he will be successful.
Since the revelations of his misconduct, other women with whom he worked have come forward to tell their stories. One journalism-school graduate who worked as a producer on one of the network’s most popular shows revealed that Ghomeshi’s conduct toward her turned her dream career into a nightmare. She reports that the three years she spent working on the show kept her tense and scared, afraid of what he would do or say to her. She alleges that he verbally and physically harassed her throughout that time. Her complaints to her executive producers and a union representative were met with disinterest, deflecting, and made her feel defeated. She eventually had to take a leave of absence to pursue work elsewhere.
The responses to the numerous allegations against Ghomeshi have been swift. In addition to being fired from the CBC, he has also been removed as a judge on the Polaris Music Prize jury. Ghomeshi has worked with the gala since 2006. A Polaris representative confirmed to The Canadian Press that he had been fired, but would not confirm the suspected reason. Additionally, musician Amanda Palmer, has cancelled Ghomeshi as a guest on an upcoming book event in Toronto citing the concerns of her fans. She initially planned to continue with him as her guest.
Prior to the explosion of accusations, the CBC radio show “Q with Jian Ghomeshi” was one of the network’s most popular shows. In addition to being a Canadian celebrity, his show aired on 180 radio stations in the U.S., and in 2013 was hailed by the Washington Post as the “most popular art and culture radio show in America.” Not quite a household name, Ghomeshi is likely to receive more intense scrutiny while under investigation as the details continue to unfold.
By Didi Anofienem