05.12.2016 07:32 AM

Can you order someone to submit to sexual assault?

Kathryn Borel says someone did just that to her.

Borel, as you probably know, was the complainant in the second Jian Ghomeshi trial, the one that had been slated to start in June. As you also undoubtedly know, that trial is not going to happen, now, because Ghomeshi agreed to apologize to Borel, who was a producer on Ghomeshi’s CBC radio show. He also agreed to stay away from her for a year.  No weapons, lots of therapy, etc.

So Borel spoke to the assembled media after the deal was done in Court. She was very articulate and effective. To me, her statement sounded like it had been lawyered, because it was pretty careful, and because it suggested an understanding of the law that had completely escaped the three previous complainants (and the Crown and the police, frankly).

But Borel said one thing that blew me away, frankly, and no one else seems to have picked up on it:

“Up until recently, I didn’t even internalize that what [Ghomeshi] was doing to my body was sexual assault. Because when I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him. The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity.”

“A directive.”

That bolded part, to me, is truly extraordinary. It must be true, too, because the CBC put the entirety of it on their web site, as seen here. They didn’t redact her statement or edit it, as they had initially done.

As a result, we can only conclude what Borel said was true – she was, in fact, “directed” by her superiors to submit to sexual assault.  That’s what she said, and CBC is not disputing it in any way.

I’m just a simple Calgary lawyer, but my questions therefore are:

  1. Who directed Borel to submit to sexual assault?
  2. Have they been disciplined by the CBC for this? Why not, if not?
  3. Are they going to be charged criminally for facilitating sexual assault? Why not, if not?

As someone whose tax dollars go to the CBC, and who pays the salaries of Borel’s anonymous bosses – who function like pimps, apparently – I would like to know who directed this woman to submit to repeated sexual assaults, please and thanks.

I suspect lots of other folks will want to know, too.

 

 

 

23 Comments

  1. Mark Bourrie says:

    Borel said something that blew you away, that’s funny!
    I’m a lawyer now too

  2. JT3 says:

    I’m not sure I follow you. A news organization who prints a statement or press release in its entirety shouldn’t be taken to be admitting, agreeing with, or endorsing the statement. CBC is reporting the news. Whether true or not, doesn’t CBC have a duty to be fair and not edit someone’s words? I don’t think this qualifies as any kind of admission.

  3. Ann Jarnet says:

    Not that I want to change the subject.. but I was totally distracted and disturbed by Hubert Lacroix’s “memo” to staff yesterday which began with: “Hi everyone”. I was a public servant for decades, served close to a dozen deputy ministers, survived scandals including the arrest of an executive assistant for embezzlement, and, in no circumstance did my superiors start an internal memo written regarding a serious matter with a palsy-walsy greeting like that of our CBC Prez. The whole thing is a grave matter and communication needs to reflect that, it seems to me. Madame Joly, time to clean out the rot. As for the issue at hand, I hope Borel sues the pants off the CBC even if it costs me, the taxpayer. And if someone needs to be charged with a criminal offence, so be it.

  4. Peter says:

    One of the things that is bothering a lot of people is that Borel and the other complainants were successful, sophisticated, educated members of the arts community, well-travelled in the realm where the beautiful people dwell. Now they are presenting themselves as helpless naïfs who didn’t understand what was going on and were powerless to do anything about it, as if they were immigrant clerks or cafeteria workers living paycheque to paycheque to support their families. I think the situation is more subtle than that incongruity would suggest, but I’m sorry, I’m simply not buying that a 27 year old, university-educated author and producer believed that for a moment, or that the CBC told her that in those terms. I might change my mind if her story withstood a cross-examination by Marie Heinen, but not until then regardless of what any press release says.

    • Carey Miller says:

      I admit to a level of curiosity, as well. I have trouble believing that any business, especially the extraordinarily politically correct CBC would instruct an employee to submit to sexual assault.

      I do wonder whether she, and others, were told that while JG made some uncomfortable, it was within the rules of the CBC in supporting their creative talent. Perhaps she was told that if she was not able to work in that environment, she would be better off looking for another position, elsewhere.

      What we seem to forget is that, a decade ago, touches and rude statements were not sexual assault. Such actions were rude and looked down on by many but they were actions that bosses and high value assets could get away with, until their overall value declined. In my career, I knew of several high level executive who had affairs with their lower level staff (now possibly considered assaults) who did not suffer consequences until a project failed or a quarter failed to meet targets.

      I have no issue viewing JG as a rude schmuck. Whether he committed sexual assault or not, his actions are those of an ass. He would seem to be the type of boss that drive high turnover and a collective hope from his employees that he fail and be fired. But criminal? And I have even more difficulty believing that the CBC directs women to submit to sexual assault. That smacks of fiction and purposeful misinterpretation.

    • Shawn says:

      Peter you’re making a lot of unfortunate leaps in what the mindset should be of someone who has been put through that kind of harassment or assault.

    • Art says:

      I’m with you on this one. This whole episode is out of whack as far I’m concerned. I’m reluctant to say even that much for fear of the politically correct morality police coming after me.

      • smelter rat says:

        Of course, there is always the possibility that you’re wrong and have no understanding of how power dynamics work.

        • Peter says:

          Just as there is always the possibility your understanding of power dynamics has lead you to confuse ideology with history. I think most people understand there was a disgusting and seedy abuse of authority (or maybe celebrity) here that seems to have been ignored or even enabled by the CBC to protect their star. I think most people also understand the complainants were caught in a confusing and pressured situation that took time to understand and react to properly. What they don’t understand is why that leads to the conclusion the actions of the complainants were completely irrelevant or why fervid polemics delivered from the courthouse steps should be taken at face value as empirical reality. Unlike testimony. Perhaps you could explain why we should consider the memories of sexual assault victims unreliable in court but completely accurate in public speeches to an agitated crowd.

          • Some jerk says:

            Why should we consider testimony reliable in one venue but not in another? The stakes.

            We also aren’t considering Ms. Borel’s comments in a vacuum. Much of what she says is consistent with other findings or admissions (e.g. the Rubin report and JG’s own statements), and where she has added detail, nobody has come forward with any substantive, empirical challenges.

  5. Wow. I’m amazed, because we 100% agree. Right on. Let’s not give this up until the person(s) responsible are in the dock.

  6. Rob W says:

    I am just another simple Calgary lawyer and I’d like to know too.

    • Mark says:

      Yup. And that is the genius of her statement. Statements like this are usually crafted with cautious language, even if the message is meant to be strong. In this case the words, terms, and accusation are almost reckless in their style — taunting and daring Ghomeshi and/or the CBC to respond, refute, or otherwise challenge her account, but not within the safety of criminal court. She must have immense strength and support, because you don’t launch something like this unless you’re ready to battle over the long term. This is like Sun Tzu for strong survivors.

  7. Michel says:

    I suspect this is all part of a larger systemic problem at the CBC. I worked for them in the 90s, in close proximity to an individual who would burst out in screaming tirades, would slam doors, would call me at home in the middle of the night in a blind rage. I would arrive at work with a knot in my stomach every morning.

    The behaviour continued unabated for years. A close friend of mine (a national announcer, no less) who also worked with her years later told me she threatened to quit because of the nerve-wracking trauma of working with her. I’ll spare you the more gory details. And yet, she rose up the ranks. In both cases, we were contractors, and she was permanent staff. In both cases, we were told that management didn’t micro-manage relationships and that we should just suck it up. There was no intervention, nothing. For both of us, it amounted to the most nightmare-like work experience of our careers.

    If it had of just been me, I would have chalked it up to bad chemistry, or an exceptional situation. But years later, in that conversation with my friend (who used very colourful language to describe her), our mutual experiences confirmed a really screwed-up CBC culture. My sincere empathy to Kathryn Borel. I suspect there are plenty more stories like hers.

    • cs says:

      thanks for sharing Michel. Yeah its just incredibly insane that one person gets so much leeway in a workplace environment. I worked at a bank were a few bosses were like that, and incompetent to boot. Sad that folks have to put up with abuse. Also In Borels place, when folks accuse her of being complacent…or not standing up for herself enough, the reality is she can be fired, and given no reference. So glad this story came out, as after the last trial Ghomeshi was almost homefree, glad Borel gave him a punch to the gut with that press statement/

  8. Steve T says:

    I highly doubt CBC truly “ordered” Ms. Borel to submit to sexual assault, or that it was “her job” to allow Ghomeshi to assault her. When I read that part of her statement, it struck me as a dramatized or interpreted version of her actual discussion. I think she felt this was her opportunity to get all of her views into the public eye.

    That’s too bad, because the rest of her comments seem to be factual in nature – which is the best approach to dissecting Ghomeshi’s apology. With so much of the rest of the case being compromised by witness embellishment, a statement that is simply a factual recitation would have been more damning.

  9. davie says:

    Borel gave a glimpse of office culture where she worked. There are other work places that have similar cultures. All the people who come forward to air their grievances are wrong. And they come forward publicly because whatever grievance procedure in their work place does not work for those lower on the pay scale, it works to protect those higher in office. This keeps popping up, armed forces, RCMP, fire fighters, House of Commons, school systems, all kinds of work places.

    • davie says:

      What I said “All the people…are wrong,’ is wrong.
      I should have typed ‘All the people who came forward to air their grievances cannot be wrong.’

      (Similarly, a lot of the things I type on the internet are not right.)

  10. The Doctor says:

    None of this should surprise anyone, and I think it’s important to note that this is very far from “just a CBC thing”. This sort of thing happens in all sorts of different workplaces and other contexts. It happens anywhere where a person with sociopathic and/or personality disordered tendencies accumulates power in a workplace or other setting and thus gets themselves into a position of impunity and non-accountability. I remember one psychologist describing the way that abusers — who are social predators — instinctively seek out these situations so they can do their thing. In substance, Ghomeshi’s gig is no different from that of, say, some high revenue-generating star at an investment bank who acts like a monster to his or her underlings and colleagues, but everyone looks the other way because you can’t fire a superstar — or at least no one has the guts to do so. And many “private” or domestic abuse situations also involve one person in a position of power (economic, physical, sexual, emotional) and acting with complete impunity and lack of accountability as a result. The sad thing is Ghomeshi’s situation, although factually salacious, is not extraordinary at all. This sort of thing happens every day, all over the place.

  11. patrick says:

    How does one go to the CBC for help?
    Is there a direct line or are there intermediaries?
    And how does the CBC discipline? Rod? Ruler? 1000 lines of “I will not…..”
    Is the CBC tall? Short? Have a deep voice? Cheat a golf?
    You’d think that the conveyors of CBC’s edicts would at least give us a hint about this CBC.
    But nothing. Just mystery. And an ability to inform someone they should degrade themselves with
    impunity.
    Too bad
    If it had been assistant VP Bobby Leftcoplonk, you know the guy, with the hair things, mole, steals pencils,
    then names could have been given. Responsibility taken. Facts proven.
    Unfortunately, it’s CBC. The unknowable, mysterious, rich CBC.
    Wonder what car CBC drives?
    Probably and Audi.

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