New allegations of violent sexual abuse have been levelled against Jian Ghomeshi, the prominent Canadian broadcaster fired at the weekend from his job as presenter of a flagship show on the nation’s public broadcasting network.
The Toronto Star, which first detailed allegations by four women against Ghomeshi after the Canadian Broadcasting Company fired him from his cultural affairs show, Q, published a lengthy new story on Wednesday night with similar accusations from four more women, including a popular Canadian actor, Lucy DeCoutere. All had similar stories of how, during sex, Ghomeshi was violent without their permission.
DeCoutere – who as well as starring in the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys is also a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force – is the first of Ghomeshi’s accusers so far to allow herself to be named.
Ghomeshi, one of Canada’s most popular broadcasters, is fighting the CBC’s decision to fire him in a lawsuit filed on Monday . He denies he ever forced his partners into rough sex and portrays his sexual tastes as a “mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey”, the bestselling erotic romance centred on an S&M relationship. As well as hiring a legal team, he has also engaged one of Canada’s top crisis-management firms. He issued a new statement on Thursday , saying he would address the latest claims, but had not done so by the time of publication of this article.
The mounting allegations – which date back to 2002 – raise new questions about a culture at the CBC that allowed Ghomeshi’s alleged behaviour to go unchallenged. Some of the women say they met him at CBC events or at the CBC workplace, while others say they encountered him during a 2012 book tour or at media and film festivals.
DeCoutere told the Toronto Star that she met Ghomeshi at the Banff television festival in in 2003. “She recalls him telling her how famous he was and “How lucky you are to be with me’,” the paper reported. When she later met him at his Toronto home, DeCoutere alleges he “pushed her against the wall, choked her with his hands around her neck and then slapped her three times,” the paper said.
Another of the women to come forward is a CBC producer in Montreal “who dreamed of being on Q”. According to the Star, she alleges that Ghomeshi took her to his hotel room, threw her against the wall and was very “forceful” with her. She told the Star that she performed oral sex “to get out of there”.
“The woman, who still works in the media but not at CBC, said she decided not to complain about his behaviour because she feared he was too powerful,” the story continued.
Another woman told the Star that Ghomeshi “grabbed her hair and pulled her down to the floor,” then “delivered three sharp punches to the side of her head” at his home. A third said that he whipped her and choked her with his belt, leaving her with “deep bruising on her body.” A fourth said that he bit her on the face.
Two of the women featured in the Star’s story say that before the alleged assaults Ghomeshi introduced them to a stuffed toy bear called Big Ears Teddy, which, according to the Star, he turned around just before he hit or choked them, saying: “Big Ears Teddy shouldn’t see this.”
It also emerged on Wednesday that, in April, a Twitter account called “@BigEarsTeddy” sent a series of tweets directed at Ghomeshi’s account alleging further abuse.
Another tweet from the same account hints at the existence of a video of Ghomeshi punching the author. The account has been inactive since those tweets in April.
On Monday, Ghomeshi filed a lawsuit in Toronto’s superior court of justice against CBC, claiming C$25m in damages for breach of confidence, C$25m in damages for defamation, and C$5m in punitive damages. Any suggestion that Ghomeshi engaged in non-consensual sex with his partners and physically abused them is false, the suit says.
The Guardian placed multiple calls to Ghomeshi’s lawyers for comment. All went unreturned, as did a call to his PR firm. The CBC has also been approached for comment.
In a long and emotional Facebook post on Sunday, Ghomeshi wrote: “In the coming days you will hear about how I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom. And the implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie.”
He called it “salacious gossip,” and said that it was the work of a jilted former lover. They had joked about their relationship being a “mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey,” he said in the post.
Soon after the post was uploaded, the Star published its first story in which three women anonymously claimed that Ghomeshi had abused them physically, and a fourth, also anonymous, claimed he had “cupped her buttocks” and told her he wanted to “hatef— her.”
Jesse Brown, the freelance investigative journalist who has been pursuing the story with the Star, told the Guardian that more alleged victims were emerging. “We are receiving more and more allegations, more people coming forward,” he said, adding that there were “also questions about who knew what when.”
In a new post to his Facebook page Thursday morning, Ghomeshi said: “I want to thank you for your support and assure you that I intend to meet these allegations directly.” It adds: “I don’t intend to discuss this matter any further with the media.”
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