What does the Ghomeshi verdict mean?
Nothing, absolutely nothing. Ghomeshi’s sexualized crimes were tried in the criminal justice system where there is a substantially high threshold for establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a threshold designed to protect our human rights. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt in sexual assault cases is difficult to attain.
The tremendous successes of the Ghomeshi scandal in its entirety are where we need to direct our focus. We are all vulnerable to feeling victimized by perceived failures of the criminal justice system. Don’t lose sight of the value of reporting sexualized crimes.
Victims asserted their self-worth as well as their rights, confronted an adored iconic personality, courageously spoke out about sexualized crimes and they were believed. They were believed by friends, family, strangers, victim support services, police, Crown attorneys. Their brave disclosures generated meaningful debate on contentious issues such as consent and victim blaming. Their stories opened the door for hundreds of victims across the country to disclose sexual assaults and begin healing. Public accountability was met. An elevated celebrity was brought back down to human being status.
Sparks have been ignited and permission granted for victims of sexualized crimes to come forward and place shame where it belongs, on the shoulders of the offender. This is what healing looks like.
Warmland Women’s Support