Eight women, including local actor Lucy DeCoutere, have now come forward in the media with allegations of physical violence by Jian Ghomeshi. How many more stories are still out there, remain to be seen.
Last night, the Toronto Star updated their investigation into the ex-CBC radio star and his alleged history of sexual violence. After their initial coverage, five other women came forward with graphic stories going back as far as 2002. DeCoutere, a teacher and Air Force captain who's internationally known for her work on Trailer Park Boys, agreed to be identified.
She tells reporters Kevin Donovan and Jesse Brown that she was attacked by Ghomeshi in 2003, "without warning or consent."
"He did not ask if I was into it," DeCoutere tells the Star. "It was shocking to me."
Two of the other women who came forward but asked to remain anonymous say Ghomeshi assaulted them in his home. One, an employee of CBC at the time, says she chose not to speak out because of how professionally powerful Ghomeshi seemed. Another woman was interviewed yesterday by CBC's As it Happens, and you can hear her powerful story on their site. Another will speak today on The Current and tonight on The National.
A woman from Eastern Canada tells the Star that in 2012 she visited Ghomeshi after first meeting him locally at a book signing. She says he assaulted her, and when she later confronts him about the incident over email he brushes her off.
"it IS about sex," Ghomeshi apparently wrote in an email response which was given to the Star. "it WAS…that you've decided to turn this ugly is disappointing. i wish for good karma in 2013."
There's, sadly, a lot more.
This past week has seen tens of thousands of words written about Mr. Ghomeshi's sex life. His preemptive Facebook post about BDSM practices was, intentional or not, a masterful deflection of the then-vague accusations. The language was disgustingly abusive (a cabal of jilted exes, a puritanical CBC), but it worked in so much as it made the matter appear to be about sex. Others have explained, powerfully and clearly, why that's wrong. Assaulting women is not a fetish. This is not about sex; it's about violence and power.
Since the initial reports came to light, an online petition has been started in support of "the women who have been directly affected by Jian Ghomeshi" and other survivors of abuse who fear they won't be believed.
"You should know first that there are so many of us who believe you. We understand why you fear coming forward, and want to offer a counterbalance of public support and understanding. Jian Ghomeshi’s tactic of using his massive personal platform as a public figure to preemptively silence and discredit his victims is shameful. We condemn the PR attempt to make you out to be a "jilted ex” and we see through the deplorable strategy of re-routing a conversation that should be about consent and assault to one about BDSM. No one should be abused anywhere - not on a date, not in a workplace. No one should be intimidated out of coming forward with their own stories."
Nearly 4,000 signatures have been collected, many by prominent Canadian artists and musicians including Steven Lambke and Bryan Webb of the Constantines, the band Fucked Up, visual artist Shary Boyle and Owen Pallett (who talked about his "friend" Ghomeshi in a Facebook post).
To stand up and give voice to the violence committed against you is always heroic, even more so when the accused has such power. It seems possible that for at least ten years a national celebrity used his influence to attack women across the country. Eight have come forward, and it's sobering to think how many could be remaining silent. They have our support.