How a Witness in the Ghomeshi Trial Is Trying to Help Sex Assault Victims Navigate the Legal System
Linda Redgrave says the judge was not respectful to women or sex assault victims.
Linda Redgrave, the first witness who testified against Jian Ghomeshi at his February sexual assault trial, has revealed her identity as part of an effort to help victims of violence navigate the legal system.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Redgrave said she was enraged by Justice William Horkins's ruling—not so much the not guilty verdict (the former CBC host was acquitted of all charges), but the "condescending" tone of the judgment itself.
Horkins, who delivered the verdict March 24, said the complainants' reliability and credibility were severely damaged under cross-examination.
Redgrave testified in court that she met Ghomeshi at a CBC Christmas party she was catering in December 2002 and proceeded to go on three dates with him. On the first occasion, she said he pulled her hair back "really hard" while they were kissing in his car. Another time, at his home, she said he grabbed her hair, brought her to her knees, and punched her in the head.
Redgrave denied having any contact with Ghomeshi after alleged incident in his house, but Ghomeshi's lawyer, Marie Henein, revealed that she had sent Ghomeshi an email with a photo of herself in a bikini attached to it about a year later. Horkins characterized the behavior as odd.
"It reveals conduct completely inconsistent with her assertion that the mere thought of Ghomeshi traumatized her," he said, noting he didn't believe her explanation that she sent the photo to bait Ghomeshi into giving her an explanation as to why he had treated her that way.
Redgrave told the Star she screamed in a witness room following the verdict.
"He indirectly called us liars, like, 'You naughty girls, what were you thinking? Go back to your rooms. You wasted our time...' How dare he be so condescending? He could have come to the 'not guilty' in a much more respectful way to women. He's not just talking to us—he's talking to all survivors of sexual abuse."
She also pointed out that her so-called "odd" behavior was similar to that of the other two witnesses in the case.
"We didn't behave maybe as a man would have, who doesn't have a clue about these issues."
Redgrave said she struggled with the court process and originally thought the Crown would act as counsel for her. She also said she didn't realize that statements made in the media and gave to the police would be scrutinized so heavily in court. The experience prompted her to launch www.comingforward.ca, a resource for victims of sexual assault who want to report the crimes against them. She also decided to waive the publication ban protecting her identity. (She was identified as L.R. throughout the trial.)
"I want other women to do this. I want them to identify with me and know I'm just a normal woman. I'm doing this so other women will be armed doing this."
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