Three women have now filed abuse complaints against fired CBC star Jian Ghomeshi and investigators are looking into reports of a “graphic” video in the network’s possession, police said Saturday.
“These people have come forward. They’ve seen that other people are talking about it and it’s brought it back up in their lives,” Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins told reporters after confirming a third person has come forward with allegations.
“At this point, these are allegations. He has not been convicted of anything, these are allegations. We are trying to get all the information from our reportees — our victims — first, so that we have the best evidence to move forward,” with the assault and sexual assault investigation, Beaven-Desjardins added.
Police have not sought an interview with Ghomeshi, she said, but investigators will approach him “when the evidence leads us to that point.”
Ghomeshi has said he has engaged in rough sex, but that it was always consensual, and said he was fired as a CBC Radio host because of the risk that his sex life would become public “as a result of a campaign of false allegations.”
Ghomeshi said the firing came after he “provided” network officials with information he claimed showed consent.
As many as nine women — two named — have alleged in the media he attacked them physically and/or sexually without warning, but none had gone to police until Friday. Ghomeshi said Thursday on Facebook he would meet the allegations “directly,” but that he won’t discuss “this matter” further with the media.
Word of police involvement came hours after the CBC announced on Friday that the emergence of “graphic” evidence that Ghomeshi had caused physical injury to a person prompted his firing last Sunday.
Beaven-Desjardins says police believe someone has viewed “graphic evidence of physical injury to a woman” and are looking into the possibility of video footage.
“That’s something we have to confirm — we don’t know if there is a video or isn’t a video… we have to do our due diligence.” She said police haven’t yet contacted the broadcaster but plan to do so.
The Toronto Star quoted unnamed sources in a report on Friday that Ghomeshi showed his bosses videos depicting bondage and beating during sexual activities in an effort to show bruising could happen and still be consensual.
The paper said it had not seen the video.
The Toronto Star reported Saturday that it had heard from unnamed sources that Ghomeshi is in the alleged video.
When asked if CBC had seen a video with Ghomeshi in it, spokesman Chuck Thompson said in an email Saturday only that “On Thursday, Oct. 23, CBC saw, for the first time, graphic evidence that Jian Ghomeshi had caused physical injury to a woman. We have reached out to the police and will fully co-operate with their investigation.”
Ghomeshi and his lawyer have not responded to questions from The Canadian Press regarding the allegations or the Star report.
Beaven-Desjardins said it’s believed there may be more complainants — including outside Ontario — and appealed to them, or anyone with information relating to the allegations, to contact police.
Police have already contacted media outlets that have published accounts of the alleged abuse, asking them to tell their sources to contact the force’s sex crimes unit, she said. Work on the investigation, which Beaven-Desjardins described as in its “infancy,” began after the stories first ran earlier in the week.
“I felt that it would be better for us to get ahead of it and see exactly what’s coming together” in case an alleged victim approached police, she said.
The allegations have made headlines across the country and led to discussion about sexual consent and violence against women — publicity Beaven-Desjardins believes encouraged the complaints.
“It was an opportunity for it to be brought to the forefront in our society. And the way that our community gathered around it, and they were disgusted by it and knew that something had to be done, it allowed the alleged victims to come forward and get their story out.”
One of the women who contacted police was “Trailer Park Boys” star Lucy DeCoutere, her publicist has confirmed, but Beaven-Desjardins wouldn’t offer any details on the three complainants.
Ghomeshi, 47, has launched a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC for breach of confidence and defamation. He has also filed a grievance alleging dismissal without proper cause that damaged his reputation.
The CBC has hired an independent investigator to look at its handling of the situation after at least one former employee said she had complained about his behaviour to a union rep, who spoke to his executive producer, but nothing substantive was done.
Sex Crimes Unit Commander says 2 top investigators have been assigned to case. pic.twitter.com/E1pG5o9kal
— Shaunacitynews (@shaunacitynews) November 1, 2014
Ghomeshi’s former bandmates Mike Ford, Murray Foster and David Matheson, who all played in Moxy Fruvous in the ‘90s, put out a statement on Friday denouncing the alleged acts.
“As former colleagues of Jian … we are sickened and saddened by this week’s news,” the statement said.
“We had no inkling that Jian engaged in this type of behaviour. We abhor the idea of a sexual relationship of any sort being entered into without full consent from both parties and condemn violence against women in any form. We wish only health and healing to everyone involved.”
With files from Toronto staff