A third woman is now being interviewed by the Toronto police sex-crimes unit as the criminal investigation into allegations of physical and sexual assault against fired CBC star Jian Ghomeshi expands.
Police are also investigating videos Ghomeshi showed his CBC bosses Oct. 23 containing “graphic evidence that Jian had caused physical injury to a woman.”
Ghomeshi — whose whereabouts are unknown — has not yet been interviewed, police said Saturday.
Meanwhile, other women who allege they were attacked by Ghomeshi continue to come forward. The Star has now heard of incidents dating back to his time as member of the band Moxy Früvous, and more allegations from his time as host of Play on CBC television and from his time as host of Q.
Generally the women coming forward with new stories allege that Ghomeshi asked them on dates and, without their consent, attacked them, usually by grabbing them around the throat, squeezing the throat and striking them on the face.
The Star is continuing to investigate.
Over the past week the Toronto Star and other media outlets have published accounts by nine women alleging Ghomeshi violently abused and harassed them.
Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere is one of the women being interviewed by police. She alleged in an interview with the Star that in 2003 Ghomeshi choked her to the point she could not breathe and then slapped her hard three times on the side of her head without her consent.
Ghomeshi will, “at some point,” be asked to come in and discuss the allegations, the head of the sex-crimes unit, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, said in a news conference Saturday morning.
Ghomeshi was fired by the CBC last Sunday, three days after CBC saw the “graphic evidence” for the first time, according to an internal staff memo sent out Friday by Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English services.
Sources have told the Star Ghomeshi presented graphic videos and photos of himself and a woman to his bosses, in an attempt to show “how bruising could happen and it could still be consensual.”
Ghomeshi believed the videos “were exculpatory of his conduct,” sources told the Star.
After learning about the videos from media reports, Beaven-Desjardins said police will be speaking to individuals at the CBC about both the videos and any knowledge they might have of the allegations against Ghomeshi.
CBC has “reached out to police and will fully cooperate with their investigation,” CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said Saturday afternoon.
Thompson would not respond to questions about whether CBC is in possession of the videos.
On Friday he told the Star he couldn’t comment for legal reasons when asked if the CBC had considered going to police after the meeting.
Earlier this week, the CBC said an independent investigation into allegations against Ghomeshi within the CBC and on improving workplace safety systems will be conducted.
The announcement came after one of the nine women, a CBC employee at the time, told the Star in an interview that Ghomeshi sexually harassed her in the workplace. And in a meeting to discuss her complaints with Q’s executive producer, she said she was asked “what (she) could do to make this a less toxic work environment.”
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Ghomeshi said that while he does not plan to address any allegations against him in the media, he does intend to meet them “directly.”
Ghomeshi wrote in a previous post that, while he has engaged in “adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission,” it has always been consensual. He reiterated, in a $55-million defamation and breach of trust lawsuit against CBC, that all his sexual interactions have been consensual.
A formal police investigation was launched Friday, a day after Chief Bill Blair made a public statement asking complainants to contact the police so an investigation could be opened.
But Beaven-Desjardins said that as soon as the media reports came out, she assigned officers to review all coverage so they could be prepared when a formal investigation commenced. She also contacted media outlets to pass police and Victim Services contact information on to their sources.
The police are now asking anyone with photos, videos and social media chats related to the investigation to contact the sex-crimes unit.
Beaven-Desjardins encouraged other alleged victims to come forward and assured them that their accounts would be taken seriously.
“We believe them right from the outset,” she said. She also noted that corroborating evidence can be helpful in building a court case.
“When you have more than one person giving the same story regarding consent, then that’s definitely showing a pattern.”
She added that police try to make the process “as unobtrusive as possible.”
Toronto police will collaborate with their partners in other jurisdictions to investigate any allegations occurring outside Toronto, she said.
She also reminded victims that there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault, and that incidents can be investigated at any time.
Ghomeshi’s publicity firm, Rock-It Promotions, and the high-profile crisis management firm Navigator severed ties with Ghomeshi earlier this week because he lied to them about the extent of the allegations against him, sources have told the Star.
His former bandmates from Moxy Früvous, who had not played together since about 2000, said in a Facebook statement they were “sickened and saddened” by the allegations levelled against Ghomeshi.
“We had no inkling that Jian engaged in this type of behaviour,” Mike Ford, Murray Foster and David Matheson said in a statement.
The Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit can be reached at 416-808-7474.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or online at 222tips.com.
Anyone who has been sexually assaulted can call Victim Services Toronto (416-808-7066) for help, including counselling, without needing to file a police report.