One of the most popular radio broadcasters in the history of Canada, Jian Ghomeshi's fall from grace began in 2014 when he was arrested on multiple counts of assault from three different female accusers. In the ensuing months as he awaited trial, Ghomeshi lost his prime gig as the host of his CBC One radio show titled Q, and the severity of the accusations against him constituted a tremendous public blow to his reputation. When the trial began in February of this year, all eyes were fixated on the goings-on in the courtroom.
Would the system inflict legal punishment upon one of its country's brightest media darlings? Can sexual abuse victims receive a fair trial in the Canadian court system? The new documentary The Trial of Jian Ghomeshi, produced by the news arm of his own former employer CBC, examines the duration of the trial and the aftermath of its verdict in an attempt to uncover those answers.
The trial was short-lived - eight days in total - and the final verdict provided complete exoneration to the accusation. In the process, the credibility of each accuser was brought into question, and the judge quickly dismissed their claims as deceptive. The perception of the court seemed to indicate that violence-tinged sexual activities might very well have occurred between Ghomeshi and his accusers, but the prosecution failed to establish that these episodes were performed in the absence of mutual consent.
The verdict has discouraged up to a dozen additional women who have come forward with their own allegations against Ghomeshi, each of them claiming to have suffered similar bouts of violent sexual and physical assaults.
Since cameras are not allowed in Canadian courtrooms, the filmmakers have taken the innovative step of re-enacting key moments of the trial using the court transcripts as a guide. Through these dramatizations, we bear witness to the harsh glare of scrutiny that greeted each individual accuser, and the undeniable inconsistencies that were brought forth in each of their accounts by the defense. The final take-away from these sequences, as well as the face-to-face interviews with the plaintiffs themselves, show a case with more shadings than originally anticipated.
Does The Trial of Jian Ghomeshi present an objective treatment of its controversial subject? Viewers are likely to argue this point as fervidly as they do the verdict.