TORONTO — The prosecution has decided against appealing the acquittal of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi on sexual-assault and choking charges last month, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General said Monday.
In a statement, Brendan Crawley said a review of the ruling and case turned up no basis to contest the decision.
“The Crown has concluded that there is no legal basis upon which to appeal the acquittals,” Crawley said.
“The Crown’s right of appeal from an acquittal is limited to errors of law, and does not include errors relating to factual matters.”
Ghomeshi, 48, the one-time host of the radio show “Q,” had pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking involving three women. All three testified they were in a romantic encounter with him when he briefly turned violent in incidents dating back to 2002 and 2003.
In his lengthy decision that sparked an emotional debate on how the justice system treats abuse complainants, Ontario court judge William Horkins acquitted Ghomeshi on all counts on the grounds that the three complainants were simply not credible enough to sustain a conviction.
Horkins branded their testimony as “shifting” and “tainted by outright deception.”
Some critics argued the Crown had done a poor job of preparing the women for the rigours of court.
“This was clearly a difficult case for everyone involved,” Crawley said. “I have full confidence in the job that our Crown prosecutors do in court every day, as well as all our justice sector partners.”
The acquittal also sparked courthouse protests, with some groups arguing that the cross-examinations the women faced would only serve to discourage victims of sexual abuse from going to the police.
The ministry statement also said the Ontario government takes the issue of sexual violence and harassment seriously and is committed to strengthening supports for survivors.
“We believe it’s very important to create an atmosphere where survivors feel comfortable coming forward,” Crawley said.
He noted the government has introduced a $41-million plan aimed at combating sexual violence and harassment by raising awareness to help change attitudes and improve supports for survivors who come forward. The plan includes developing a pilot program to provide free, independent legal advice to survivors of sexual assault and establishing an enhanced prosecution model, Crawley said.
Ghomeshi faces a sexual assault trial in June related to an ex-CBC employee for acts that allegedly occurred in 2008. The charges on which he was acquitted last month stemmed from 2002 and 2003.
Ontario court judge Mavin Wong is slated to hear the case without a jury starting June 6. It is scheduled to last for five days. The single complainant cannot be identified by court order.
“As Mr. Ghomeshi is scheduled to return to court in June on a related matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further about this particular case,” Crawley said.