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Ghomeshi verdict calls our ideas of how victims should behave into question

Last Updated Mar 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm PDT

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Summary

UBC legal expert says we need to remember there is no 'perfect victim'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi has been found not guilty of sexual assault and choking, with the judge in the case saying the three complainants were not credible.

Some of the accusers weren’t up front about some of their behavior and the judge used that as a reason to acquit.

The fact that the accused weren’t fully forthcoming about what happened after their interactions with Ghomeshi may have worked against them. For example, some said they never contacted Ghomeshi again when text messages proved that wasn’t the case.

Professor Janine Benedet with UBC’s Allard School of Law wonders if the expectations for sexual assault victims may be the reason the women didn’t tell the truth.

“Is the reason that they weren’t because they knew that if they didn’t meet the standard of the ‘perfect victim,’ their charges would never see the light of day? That’s really the part of the system that I think we need to confront.”

Benedet says it’s important to remember there is no perfect victim.

“The idea that women have to complain immediately after the assault, the idea that we need corroberation of their testimony or they’re expected to fight back — that if there’s any kind of stain on their reputation — we ought not to believe them. But all of those ideas have been discredited.”

She even wonders if these women have been completely honest up front, whether the verdict would be any different.

Benedet questions if the accusers perhaps hid the fact that they contacted Ghomeshi after because they knew it would negatively affect the Crown’s case.