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The embattled radio host first told the pubcaster last spring that the Toronto Star newspaper was investigating allegations by an ex-girlfriend that “he had engaged in non-consensual ‘rough sex,'” said Heather Conway, head of English services at the CBC, in an internal memo to employees obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Ghomeshi advised the CBC he had a letter from the newspaper that made allegations about his private life. “When directly confronted, Jian firmly denied there was any truth to those allegations,” Conway recounted, without specifying what the allegations were.
The Toronto Star did not at the time contact the CBC directly, according to the memo. The newspaper, in its own timeline of events, points to a June 24 letter sent to Ghomeshi in which it said it was “investigating allegations from women who say that you have been physically and verbally abusive to them during sexual encounters. These are very serious allegations and we want to give you every opportunity to respond and give your side of the story.”
The newspaper added Ghomeshi’s lawyer wrote back on June 25 to indicate the radio host was being “harassed” by a former girlfriend in contact with other “women friends and former partners” to support her allegations.
The CBC’s Conway, in her version of events, recalls in early summer 2014 that an employee of Q, the CBC and NPR/PRI radio show that Ghomeshi hosted, received a letter from an unnamed reporter inquiring about Ghomeshi’s “behavior” and suggested it may have “crossed over’ into the workplace.
The CBC memo indicates the pubcaster opened an investigation and interviewed employees and management before concluding, “there were no complaints of this nature about Jian’s behavior in the workplace.”
Ghomeshi at the time assured the CBC the ongoing allegations were untrue and that his lawyers could disprove them, according to the CBC. “At that time, the Toronto Star did not move ahead with the story and, based on Jian’s denial, we continued to believe Jian,” Conway recalled in her memo.
But the Toronto Star did not drop its investigation and the newspaper, in its account, says Ghomeshi, fearing publication of a story, requested a meeting with CBC execs on Thursday, Oct. 23. The CBC’s own version of events confirms that crisis meeting where, no longer willing to buy his account of events and needing assurance, received from Ghomeshi “for the first time graphic evidence that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman.”
The Toronto Star report indicates Ghomeshi presented photos and a series of videos the radio host “believed were exculpatory to his conduct.” A rival account in the Globe and Mail newspaper points to “texts, emails and photos of the host’s sexual encounters.”
Conway, in her memo, while not specifying what the materials were, underlines Ghomeshi crossed a line leading to his dismissal three days later on October 26: “Jian’s conduct in causing physical injury to a woman was inconsistent with the character of the public broadcaster, was fundamentally unacceptable for any employee, was likely to bring the reputation of his fellow employees and CBC into disrepute and could not be defended by CBC,”
The senior exec goes on in the memo to recall the CBC took “immediate steps to remove Jian from the workplace and terminated his employment on October 26.” Before that, on Friday, Oct. 26, the CBC announced Ghomeshi had been placed on indefinite leave.
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The radio host, aiming to downplay concerns among his fans, took to his Twitter account to announce: “Thanks for all the well wishes, you guys. I’m ok. Just taking some much needed personal time.” A CBC spokesman, citing privacy reasons, told THR that “we never discuss or comment on the terms of separation with any employee.”
But the Globe and Mail newspaper, in its account, suggests the CBC allowed Ghomeshi over Saturday to “think about his situation and decide whether he had anything further to say to CBC managers.” When all parties returned on Sunday for another meeting, Ghomeshi reportedly held firm to his position that his sexual relations with women had been consensual.
The the CBC on Sunday afternoon informed the former radio host he was fired. “The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end,” the pubcaster said in a statement issued that day.
The CBC explained in a statement to the media also issued on Sunday afternoon that “information came to our attention recently that in CBC’s judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian.”
The radio host, with lawyers and PR/crisis management specialist Navigator in his corner, took to Facebook later on Sunday to defend himself, saying that he had been in a relationship that involved “rough sex,” but that the interactions had been consensual.
That was followed late Sunday by the Toronto Star publishing a first article in which it pointed to four unnamed woman accusing Ghomeshi of unwanted and unwarned violent sexual abuse. Lawyers for the former radio host on Monday filed a $55 million lawsuit against the CBC, alleging breach of faith and breach of confidence against the pubcaster in its dealing with Ghomeshi.
Through the week, another five women came forward with yet more allegations of sexual violence against Ghomeshi. Two put their names alongside their accounts, the first being Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere and then Reva Seth, a lawyer and author.
As the number of accusers grew, an unrepentant Ghomeshi on Thursday issued a second Facebook statement: “I want to thank you for your support and assure you that I intend to meet these allegations directly. I don’t intend to discuss this matter any further with the media.”
In addition, Ghomeshi has seen his support network peel away, including Navigator and his PR agency rock-it promotions, followed Friday by his agent of representation, Toronto-based The Agency Group.
Late Friday, Toronto police announced that two unnamed women had come forward with complaints about Ghomeshi and that a criminal investigation into the former radio host had begun.
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