Ghomeshi’s Apology

It’s over.

Yesterday Jian Ghomeshi signed a peace bond and apologized to Kathryn Borel.  The Crown dropped the sexual assault charge.

Here’s Mr Ghomeshi’s apology and Ms Borel’s reply.

Ghomeshi’s apology

I want to apologize to Ms. Borel for my behaviour towards her in the workplace. In the last 18 months, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on this incident and the difficulties I caused Ms. Borel, and I have had to come to terms with my own deep regret and embarrassment.

jian-ghomeshi-apologizes-to-former-colleague-in-court-walks-out-a-free-man-body-image-1462978201-size_1000I enjoyed a position of privilege in my job at the CBC as the host of a program I loved. I was a person in a position of authority and leadership, and I did not show the respect that I should have to Ms. Borel. I did not always lead by example and I failed to understand and truly appreciate the impact of my conduct on Ms. Borel’s work environment. That conduct in the workplace was sexually inappropriate. I realize that there is no way for me to know the full impact on her personally and professionally.

I now recognize that I crossed boundaries inappropriately. A workplace should not have any sexualized tone. I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a co-worker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place. I did not appreciate the damage that I caused, and I recognize that no workplace friendship or creative environment excuses this sort of behaviour, especially when there is a power imbalance as there was with Ms. Borel. This incident was thoughtless and I was insensitive to her perspective and how demeaning my conduct was towards her. I understand this now. This is a challenging business to be in and I did not need to make it more difficult for Ms. Borel. The past 18 months have been an education for me. I have reflected deeply and have been working hard to address the attitudes that led me, at the time, to think that this was acceptable.

I apologize to my family for letting them down and in particular for the impact that all of this has had on my dear mother and my sister. I apologize for the burden my actions have placed on those dear friends who have stood by me throughout this difficult time. I regret behaviour at work with all of my heart and I hope that I can find forgiveness from those for whom my actions took such a toll.

Kathryn Borel’s reply

In December of 2014, I pressed sexual assault charges against Jian Ghomeshi.

As you know Mr. Ghomeshi initially denied all the charges that were brought against him. But today, as you just heard, Jian Ghomeshi admitted wrongdoing and apologized to me. It’s unfortunate but maybe not surprising he chose not to say much about what exactly he was apologizing for. I’m going to provide those details for you now.

2016-05-11-ghomeshivictim-300x169Every day over the course of a three-year period, Mr. Ghomeshi made it clear to me that he could do what he wanted to me and my body. He made it clear that he could humiliate me repeatedly and walk away with impunity.

There are at least three documented incidents of physical touching. This includes the one charge he just apologized for, when he came up behind me while I was standing near my desk, put his hands on my hips and rammed his pelvis against my backside over and over, simulating sexual intercourse.

Throughout the time that I worked with him, he framed his actions with near-daily verbal assaults and emotional manipulations these inferences felt like threats or declarations like I deserved to have happening to me what was happening to me. It became very difficult for me to trust what I was feeling.

Up until recently, I didn’t even internalize that what he was doing to my body was sexual assault. Because when I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him. The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity.

So I came to accept this. I came to believe that it was his right.  But when I spoke to the police at the end of 2014 and detailed my experiences with Mr. Ghomeshi, they confirmed to me what he did to me was, in fact, sexual assault. And that’s what Jian Ghomeshi just apologized for, the crime of sexual assault.

This is the story of a man who had immense power over me and my livelihood, admitting that he chronically abused his power and violated me in ways that violate the law.

Mr. Ghomeshi’s constant workplace abuse of me and my many colleagues and friends has since been corroborated by multiple source, a CBC fifth estate documentary and a third-party investigation.

In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, the lie that he was not guilty and it would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop.

Jian Ghomeshi has apologized, but only to me there are 20 other women who have come forward to the media and made serious allegations about his violent behaviour. Women who have come forward to say that he punched and choked and smothered and silenced them.

There is no way that I would have come forward if it weren’t for their courage. And yet Mr. Ghomeshi hasn’t met any of their allegations head on as he vowed to do in his Facebook post of 2014. He hasn’t taken the stand on any charge. All he has said about his other accusers is that they’re all lying and that he’s not guilty. And remember, that’s what he said about me.

I think we all want this to be over but it won’t be until he admits to everything that he’s done.

He said/she said

Mr Ghomeshi delivered an apology that characterized grinding his pelvis into Ms Borel’s backside as “behavior” that caused “difficulties”.  He was “thoughtless” and “insensitive” and failed to understand the impact of his “conduct” on a subordinate.

It’s an insipid apology but never mind, Ms Borel has been partially vindicated–after 18 months of denials (effectively calling her a liar) she managed to get Mr Ghomeshi to publicly admit to sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

It’s a small victory.

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19 Responses to Ghomeshi’s Apology

  1. David Hay says:

    Small victory indeed. When will women get justice for the criminal behviour of men?

  2. It is a SMALL victory. If there was a trial for assault between two men, one tried to choke the other, would the attacker be set free if he promised to apologize? No.

    • Linda, I agree. I really wanted to see this matter go to court but understand why Borel decided to accept the apology instead of allowing herself to being tarred and feathered by Ghomeshi’s lawyer and the press. I’m sure Ghomeshi’s lawyer and Ghomeshi had no idea she was going to issue her own public statement. In doing so she tore apart Ghomeshi’s pathetically vague apology (he could have been referring to telling an off-colour joke at the water cooler). She set out in graphic detail how Ghomeshi had harassed her over a three year period. None of this would have been admissable in court. Thanks to Borel, Ghomeshi will forever be remembered as that privileged guy who sexually assaulted women and thought he could get away with it. Here’s a link to a story in the National Observer that describes the impact of Borel’s statement.

  3. Carlos Beca says:

    This to me is a complete failure of a system we insist on calling JUSTICE.
    Ghomeshi admitted to sexual assault, but somehow he walks away free. Borel on the other hand hopes that she does not find another dry humper.
    Marie Heinen continues her march finding ways to let these guys get away with murder, for a price.
    Another victory for nonsense.
    We can do better than this if we stop believing in privilege for the few.

    • Carlos, this month’s Canadian Lawyer magazine ran an article about the Ghomeshi case. It came out just before he made his apology. It confirmed your point about this being a failure of the justice system. Elaine Craig, a law prof at Dalhousie, said Canada has progressive sexual assault laws but they’re not strictly applied during cross-examination which is used to intimidate witnesses rather than test the evidence. She says “the subtext is still stereotypes about women”. In the same article Shannon Kari said Heinen’s cross-exmination may have “run afoul of the [laws] in place to prevent sexual history stereotypes” from being used to impeach the credibility of complainants. Kari says the Crown could have demanded Heinen make a section 276 application to explain the relevance of some of the evidence she put before the three complainants. Also the Crown failed to ask Heinen to prove the authenticity of any of the emails, etc or provide any context to the communications to show why they were admissible. The Judge was also no help in this area. Given that the Crown in that case is the guy who was supposed to argue Borel’s case, its not surprising Borel decided to skip the trial and accept the apology.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        The more I read about this case and the obvious failures from the judge the more I wonder if this judge actually failed or consciously helped Ghomeshi along. It is bizarre.

        Borel had no choice but accept the apology.She does not have deep pockets so no chance.

        We have a long way to go and we as Canadians should tone down our political rhetoric on the women’s rights in other countries. This is another clear proof that we have no moral standing.

      • Carlos, good point. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  4. Einar Davison says:

    This will be short and sweet. Mr. Ghomeshi should be in jail, and all the CBC higher ups who let this continue and supported it, on their watch, should be in the cells next to him. It was more important to stroke the ego of one of their “stars” than have a safe workplace. “No means no” should have worked at CBC too and for that matter in Canada too. I’m just disgusted with how this has all played out!

  5. Thanks Susan, I was looking for more information behind this case. I am impressed with Ms. Borel’s courageous and strategic move – in light of the previous criminal cases. The “Ghomeshi moment” betrays a number of concerns about our “justice system,” and about our society’s ability to tolerate sexualities that hurt more than one victim. I suspect “we” are likely to poke at the “justice thing” better than the other thing. Nevertheless I attempt here:

    • Rusty, I checked out your link and was surprised to learn that Ghomeshi published a memoir. I googled it to find out more and landed on Ghomeshi’s Wikipedia page. There I learned that Ghomeshi was teased as a child, claimed his family was Muslim one minute and secular the next, made his clothes smell of cigarette smoke even though he didn’t smoke to give himself social credibility, graduated with a BA in political science and a double minor in history and women’s studies, was elected president of the students’ federation where he promised to increase funding for the Women’s Centre, supported increased safety measures for women on campus and co-founded a pro-choice network. The Wiki page also says Jim Hounslow, the communications coordinator for the students’ federation, says Ghomeshi grabbed Hounslow’s genitals through his jeans while the two were in an elevator. There’s really nothing more to say about him is there.

  6. janiemw says:

    I continue to wonder why everybody (including the complainant) continues to describe Ghomeshi’s sexual assault as “grinding his pelvis against her backside”.
    Is the word “penis” so shocking or obscene that we can only describe his actions by substituting the words pelvis or hips? Because a lot is lost when we soften and and diminish the imagery of what was intended to simulate non-consensual sex.
    Pelvis’s and hips don’t penetrate, they don’t threaten and unless you do your humping sideways, it’s unlikely they make direct contact with the area being humped.
    Maybe it’s just me, but seeing so much denial on behalf of Ghomeshi supporters who are outraged at the words “sexual assault” being attached to their put-upon hero – they’ll accept harassment if pushed – it seems describing what actually happened including the proper grown-up words of body parts involved could make the reality of what occurred just that much clearer.
    But it could be just me.

    • carlosbeca says:

      No it is not you at all. I am 100% with you and I fully agree. This is the new world of SPIN. People feel better with ‘passed away’ instead of died. People prefer ‘associate’ rather then employee. WalMart started this one and it is now everywhere. These people do not even make enough to sustain themselves but the word associate sounds like they are profit sharing……… and on and on.
      It is called reality avoidance. Ghomeshi trial is just a good example of all that garbage.
      Thank you for bringing this up.

    • janiemw, you’re right. Wishy-washy language obscures what really happened here. Ghomeshi’s apology didn’t even use the words “sexual assault” . It was an “incident” that caused “difficulties” for Borel. The importance of language can’t be overstated. Borel insisted on seeing the apology before she agreed to accept it. She says an earlier version described her as having a jocular vibe or sense of humour. She rejected this language saying it was an attempt to throw the blame on her. No kidding…back to sexual stereotypes–she was asking for it.
      Here’s the link:

  7. Hola Susan: I think this brand new documentary The Mask You Live In | which is now available on Netflix in Canada would be of interest to your readership, young and old. Brilliantly produced by The Representation Project, it aims at fostering constructive conversations about masculinity in our times, and ultimately, rising healthier, more whole generation of boys and young men. Highly recommended | … | LCA

    • Leo The Mask You Live In looks like a brilliant project! I’ve often wondered why some men were able to see women as people while others never get past the “women = object for my comfort and enjoyment” stereotype. Having said that I also wonder why women continue to buy into the “I must be skinny and pretty or I’m nothing” stereotype. I’d hoped that the rise of feminism would have nipped that delusion in the bud but it’s more prevalent now that ever.

  8. Pingback: Monday Pick-Me-Up « Legal Sourcery

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