There is a hashtag on social media going around: #IBelieveSurvivors, and I do. But I believe in truth, and justice as well. I believe that taking someone’s liberty away is a serious matter, and everyone should have their story questioned even when they’re the victim.
Something happened between Ghomeshi and his accusers, that much is clear. But the crown was unable to prove it ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ The crown, and investigators probably shoulders the majority of the blame on this; their witnesses were ill prepared and their case badly thought out. Where were the expert witnesses? The people who could shed light on the behavior of women in these situations? Put even one on the stand and it’s probably a different outcome on some of the charges. The women need to take some of the blame on this. The 5,000 Facebook messages between witnesses involved in the same case look suspicious. The judge couldn’t ignore that.
This was essentially the only way this case could’ve turned out. And I’m okay with it because there are trade-offs. In media you are your reputation, and this is especially true in Ghomeshi’s case. Although he’s been acquitted, he will never work again in Canada. The rumours will always follow him around, and may do more damage than an actual conviction. A guilty verdict fades from memory with time. He lives it down. And now Ghomeshi will forever be known as the guy who does twisted stuff to women without their consent. Gossip and rumours have the power to ruin lives.
The acquittal won’t fade. The testimony of these women is now a part of public record. In 20 years someone curious about the case can google it, read all the coverage and it’s there. Because of the Internet, this becomes a permanent part of the conversation on sexual assault, and victims’ rights.