"Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted on four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking by an Ontario Court judge who says the "deceptive and manipulative" evidence of the complainants raised a reasonable doubt in the guilt of the former CBC Radio host." (CBC)
Alana Klein, Faculty of Law, McGill University
"In any criminal trial without a jury, it's the judge's job to assess the credibility and reliability of witnesses generally, and to determine whether guilt was proved beyond a reasonable doubt in any kind of criminal trial.
In the past, however, the law has treated sexual assault complainants with particular suspicion that you didn’t see in other areas of the criminal law. Law reforms have sought to remove that bias.
Here, in a case where the judge expressed particular disdain for the complainants (calling at least one deceptive and manipulative) we nonetheless saw many of those stereotypes rehearsed, even as Justice Horkins repeated the need to avoid them.
The verdict may or may not have been warranted on the facts, but the way in which the judge arrived at his verdict will likely have a chilling effect on complainants coming forward, placing unrealistic expectations of memory and behaviour on them."—Alana Klein
Assistant Professor Alana Klein teaches and researches in health law, criminal law, and human rights. The position of marginalized groups and individuals in decentralized and privatized systems and the role of accountability requirements in governance and decision-making are primary preoccupations in her research.
alana.klein [at] mcgill.ca, cellphone available on demand (English, French).