Rough Sex and the Ghomeshi Trial


In Canada, many people have been following the trial of former CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi. Three women came forward and the police pressed sexual assault and choking charges against Ghomeshi. What is uncontested by all parties is that the sex was rough sex. What is unclear is whether or not the rough sex was consensual.

One complainant, Lucy DeCoutere, revealed her identity. The other two complainants remained anonymous. I have no problem with victims being anonymous… complainants also because exposure must not prevent anyone from seeking justice.

The first double standard is that despite a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, an alleged wrongdoer has his name released to the public and media along with whatever stigma is attached to the mere fact of having been a suspect. This is an injustice, along with perp walks, that needs to be rectified. Otherwise a person who may well be innocent — not just in law — in evidentiary fact turns out to be victimized. Is this justice? What system that calls itself justice would allow its business to be carried out in such an unjust manner?

No corpus delicti, no in flagrante delicto

The case against Jian Ghomeshi actually is a type of he said/she said, so scrutiny of the words and testimony would be of utmost importance in the case.

It became apparent that there was an appearance of collusion among the complainants and that they were not completely forthcoming or truthful with all facts surrounding the case. Since a charged person must be found guilty by a preponderance of the evidence — i.e., guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – the judgment rendered was what it had to be.

Nonetheless, the vituperation at the verdict was disquieting.

Naomi Klein, usually regarded as a social justice activist, rendered her version of justice and truth on Twitter: “So much gratitude to all the women who came forward to share their painful truths about Ghomeshi. To the court, to the press to each other.” Judge Klein’s opinion aside, what is clear from reading the judgment is that the complainants, however pained, were something less than truthful. As judge William Horkins wrote in his judgment:

Each complainant demonstrated, to some degree, a willingness to ignore their oath to tell the truth on more than one occasion. It is this aspect of their evidence that is most troubling to the Court.

The success of this prosecution depended entirely on the Court being able to accept each complainant as a sincere, honest and accurate witness. Each complainant was revealed at trial to be lacking in these important attributes….

I am forced to conclude that it is impossible for the court to have sufficient faith in the reliability or sincerity of these complainants. Put simply, the volume of serious deficiencies in the evidence leaves the court with a reasonable doubt.

But twitter was flush with condemnations of the judgment: “Jian Ghomeshi’s not-guilty verdict: Victim-blaming is alive and well in sexual assault cases” 

Return Of Kings: “Feminists Go Crazy After Jian Ghomeshi Found Not Guilty Of Rape”

yyzgirl: “Level of #misogyny in the world still shocking. We’ve been having same #conversations for yea. Had to use #JianGhomeshi moment” #appelsalon”

Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod: “And you wonder why women do not come forward after abuse. #IbelieveSurvivors.”

There is a morass of terminology to wade through: “complainants,” “victims,” and “survivors.” Are they all synonyms?

What does #IbelieveSurvivors imply? That anyone who claims to be a survivor is 100% truthful? Is this despite a “survivor” having admitted to — if not having lied then — being less than truthful? If less than believable, then what can one presume such a person to have survived?


Return of Kings was correct about one, supposed, feminist — a topless protester with the words “Women declare Ghomeshi guilty” written on her back disrupted a media scrum by the Crown.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau at a panel on gender equality at the World Economic Forum said, “We shouldn’t be afraid of the word feminist, men and women should use it to describe themselves anytime they want.” Trudeau is right, but I’d state that if one identifies as a humanist, then one is for equality for all humans regardless of gender.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldn’t comment directly on the Ghomeshi ruling. He stated, “I certainly think that there will be a lot of discussions and a lot of thoughtful proposals as we move forward onto how we can continue to demonstrate that violence against women, in any type, is unacceptable.”

Violence, not borne of legitimate self-defense, by any human against another human is unacceptable. This logic applies not just within a state, but should apply between and among states. State-on-state violence sends a message to people in such states that violence is acceptable to the state. How then should citizens within states practicing violence be expected to behave? I will forgo delving into the axiom that the very existence of the state is violent.

The second double standard is the widespread societal and media portrayal that women who claim to be victims of male violence are always truthful. This position is sexist, or more to the point misandric. If anything, the Ghomeshi trial evinced myriad half-truths, misinformation, and omissions of truth by female complainants. Truth is independent of the gender of the speaker.

Politician MacLeod posited that the treatment of the complainants explained why women do not come forward after abuse. The trial of Ghomeshi contradicts her illogical statement because those three women came forward after alleged abuse. MacLeod seemingly buys into the misandric standard that if a woman alleges abuse, then the abuse must be a factual occurrence. Yet the trial unambiguously reveals that the testimonies of all three women were filled with inaccuracies.

This bias towards charging and litigating men in she said/he said trials is fraught with dangers that can be exploited by the state. The house detention and hold up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK of publisher Julian Assange, accused — but not charged — with sexual offense is a damning example.

Ghomeshi retains his presumption of innocence. Whether he is indeed truly innocent is something that I cannot pronounce on.


The following is somewhat tendentious and I apologize, but I still hold — without negative aspersions attached to the wording — that the “strong” should always look out for the “weak.” Never should bigger/more powerful people impose themselves on smaller/weaker people. Therefore, as a general rule, adults should protect children, and men should protect women. And yes, the gender and age roles do reverse. The main principle being articulated is to care for each other.

Although Ghomeshi was found not guilty, on some level Ghomeshi and his family and friends are victims from this so-called justice system that leaves even those cleared of charges exposed to any potential backlash. In a just justice system, the accused should enjoy an equal right to anonymity as the accusers. Upon being found guilty beyond appeal, then public exposure may be deemed a part of penance.

As far as consensual sex goes, Justin’s father, Pierre Trudeau, had it correct when he stated that the state had no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

A particular gender orientation does not bequeath superiority for truthtelling. Misandry is as morally repugnant as misogyny.

Excluding unusual consensual sexual practices, violence is anathema on all levels: for the individual and the state.

  • First published at American Herald Tribune.
  • Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.