TORONTO — A woman who testified that she went to great lengths avoiding any contact with Jian Ghomeshi after he allegedly attacked her acknowledged during intense cross-examination on Tuesday that she sent him flirtatious emails long after their encounters.
In a dramatic development that set the courtroom on edge, Ghomeshi’s lawyer produced two emails that appeared to contradict the woman’s statements that she had been so traumatized by what happened, she’d even turn off the TV or radio when he came on.
The first email was written in January 2004, about a year after she said he had yanked her to the floor by the hair during a “sensuous” kiss in his living room and then punched her in the head.
“Good to see you again! Your show is still great,” it says.
She goes on to provide a website address for him to watch a video of her “when you take a break from ploughing snow naked,” gives her email address and phone number and asks him to get in touch.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein, known for her no-holds-barred cross-examinations, pounced.
“You’re now inviting the man who traumatized you to get in touch with you?” she asked incredulously.
“The email was bait,” the witness responded. “It was bait to call me so I could get an explanation as to why he would violently punch me in the head. I had no interest in him.”
Six months later, she sent a second email, also shown to the court. She writes she had been watching a show of his. Attached was a revealing bikini photo of her on the beach.
“I wanted him to call me,” she explained. “I sent a photograph, again, as bait.”
The emails were the climax of a relentless cross-examination that Henein began Monday as the lawyer poked holes in the woman’s testimony and exposed inconsistencies in her various statements to police, the media and court.
In one example, the woman told police that Ghomeshi had “smashed” her head against a car window. She backtracked in court. She also said she had been nervous when she spoke to two detectives in November 2014.
“There was nothing wrong in that police interview that would cause you not to tell them the truth,” Henein said at one point.
“I told them the truth that day through my nerves,” the witness answered.
“And your truth keeps changing?”
“I don’t agree with that.”
At times, the witness appeared flustered as Henein grilled her, but continued to insist she had not lied — that she had only gradually come to remember things.
Ghomeshi, 48, who used to host CBC Radio’s popular culture show “Q,” betrayed no emotion as he closely watched Henein pace the floor during the questioning.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault — two of which relate to the woman — and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.
On Monday, the witness — the first to testify — told Ghomeshi’s judge-alone trial that he seemed like a charming gentleman who would turn violent without warning.
She testified that in late 2002, Ghomeshi pulled hard on her hair while they were kissing in his car. A few weeks later, as they stood in his living room, she testified he grabbed her hair and punched her in the head, leaving her dazed, upset and confused.
At different times, Henein noted, the woman had said Ghomeshi pushed her to the floor or pulled her.
“It wasn’t like he was saying, ‘Here, have a seat’,” the woman testified.
In a statement released after her testimony, the woman said going to court and facing Ghomeshi had been “extraordinarily difficult” but worth it.
“I want to encourage other victims of abuse to come forward, and not be afraid,” she said. “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that I have had a chance to tell my story openly.”
Ghomeshi faces two other counts of sexual assault, which carry a maximum 18 months in jail, and a choking charge that has a potential maximum of life in prison.
The trial continues Thursday after the Crown said there had been witness scheduling issues.