TORONTO — An expected agreement that will see fired radio host Jian Ghomeshi apologize and sign a peace bond in exchange for the withdrawal of a sexual assault charge against him was instigated by his lawyer, a source familiar with the proceedings said Tuesday.
The offer, expected to be formalized at a court hearing on Wednesday, became contingent on his admitting to misconduct against the complainant, a former CBC employee, and an appropriately worded apology, the source told The Canadian Press.
The source insisted on anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter and the fact that it is still before the courts.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced the hearing would take place Wednesday in Ontario court of justice before Judge Timothy Lipson. Ghomeshi, 48, had been expected to stand trial next month on a single charge of sexual assault related to an incident alleged to have occurred at the CBC in 2008.
The ministry gave no reason for the change.
“All comments that the Crown makes on this matter will be made in open court, on the record,” said ministry spokesman Brendan Crawley. “No further comment will be made in the interim.”
Ghomeshi’s lawyers did not respond to requests to discuss the case publicly and Susan Chapman, who speaks for the complainant, said she “was not at liberty” to talk about the agreement.
A peace bond or recognizance, most commonly used in cases of domestic assaults, is a Criminal Code provision that allows authorities to impose conditions on someone and in which they promise to be of good behaviour. Terms of a Ghomeshi peace bond were not immediately clear.
In March, the former host of the CBC radio show “Q” was acquitted of sexual assault and choking charges related to three complainants, who alleged the incidents occurred in 2002 and 2003. In finding Ghomeshi not guilty, Judge William Horkins said he simply did not believe the complainants, who all had some kind of romantic encounters with the accused, were credible.
The current case, however, appeared to be different inasmuch as there was at least one witness and contemporaneous emails about his impugned behaviour.
In November 2014, for example, former CBC employee Roberto Veri said publicly he had seen the behaviour that formed the subject of the current charge against Ghomeshi.
“She was leaning over her desk working. He came up behind her and humped her. He drove his pelvis into her buttocks and a big smile on his face,” Veri told Canadaland.
“These things happened so quickly. I didn’t know how the person reacted at the time. I didn’t do anything.”
Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to the summary sexual assault charge, which carries a maximum 10 years behind bars on conviction.
The complainant in the current case cannot be identified by court order. Only actress Lucy DeCoutere, one of the three complainants in the previous case, waived her right to privacy and Linda Redgrave, another of the complainants, waived her anonymity after the trial.
In a headline-grabbing case that sparked a national conversation about sexual harassment and misogyny, the CBC fired its star host on Oct. 26, 2014, after seeing what it called “graphic evidence” that he had caused physical injury to a woman. He had previously admitted in a Facebook posting that he engaged in “rough sex” but insisted it was always consensual.
The publicity prompted more than a dozen women to come forward with allegations that Ghomeshi sexually or physically assaulted them, including the former CBC employee, leading to the criminal charges against him.
Ghomeshi has been out on bail since he was charged.