Former Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio host Jian Ghomeshi must live with his mother while sexual assault charges against him are heard in a case that has rocked the country’s vaunted public broadcaster.
Ghomeshi, 47, was charged Wednesday with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking, Toronto police said in a statement.
The CBC fired Ghomeshi in October after media reports of sexual assault allegations against the star first emerged. Ghomeshi, the host of Q, a popular radio show on culture that was heard on many public stations in the U.S., has denied the allegations, saying he had consensual “rough sex” with women.
Ghomeshi, who first gained fame as a member of the 1990s satirical pop band Moxy Fruvous, was in court Wednesday in his first public appearance since the allegations surfaced. A justice of the peace granted him bail at $100,000 on condition he turn over his passport and live with his mother. He’s due in court again on Jan. 8.
A publication ban on details about the case has been imposed.
Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, told reporters outside the court room that he will be pleading not guilty and the allegations will be addressed fully in court. A somber Ghomeshi said nothing.
The CBC said Ghomeshi’s firing was prompted by the emergence of “graphic” evidence that he had caused physical injury to a person.
Ghomeshi defended his actions in a 1,500-word statement on Facebook then, saying women consented to having “rough sex” with him and that he’s the victim of a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. After the Toronto Star reported several more allegations days later, Ghomeshi posted that he would confront the accusations “directly,” but wouldn’t discuss them with the media.
Police urged in late October for other women to come forward and launched an investigation after nine women contacted various media sources to report incidents of assault and sexual assault involving Ghomeshi.
One of the women who contacted police was actress Lucy DeCoutere, a star of the long-running TV and film series Trailer Park Boys.
DeCoutere was the first woman to speak on the record about her allegations against Ghomeshi. DeCoutere said she went on a date with him and alleges that when they returned to his home, he pressed her up against a wall, choked her and slapped her across the face several times.
In a statement Wednesday, DeCoutere said the Ghomeshi scandal has led to “a major shift” in Canada’s conversation about violence against women. “It has been an overwhelming and painful time for many people, including myself, but also very inspiring. I hope that victims’ voices continue to be heard and that this is the start of a change that is so desperately needed,” she said.
Author and lawyer Reva Seth became the second woman to go public, writing on the Huffington Post that Ghomeshi put his hands around her throat and sexually assaulted her, although it was not known if she was one of the women who filed a complaint to police.
After he was fired, Ghomeshi launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. He dropped that lawsuit Tuesday. A union grievance alleging dismissal without proper cause remains.