One of three complainants in the Jian Ghomeshi trial is speaking out after news broke that the disgraced former CBC radio host had launched a new podcast, saying it took her by surprise and that she “wasn’t prepared to hear this.”
“I found it very triggering … re-experiencing the trial in my head, re-experiencing the trauma. I wasn’t ready for it,” Linda Redgrave told Global News exclusively Monday evening.
“It just felt a bit like a slap in the face that he came back so quickly. And after listening to “The Ideation Project”, it sounded more like he was trying to make it about Trump and about cultures and being exiled. But what I heard from it was, ‘I will not be exiled.’ That’s what I personally took from it. ‘I will not be exiled and here I am.’”
She said the podcast will likely attract curious visitors in the short-term, but called the project “premature.”
“If he wanted to reinvent himself, it’s just too soon,” she said. “And I think the wrong country.”
Redgrave waived her right to a ban on her identity in her testimony against Ghomeshi in February 2016 and said she had a “flirtatious” meeting with him at a party in December 2002 before he had pulled her hair “hard” in an unprovoked nature while the two were in his car.
She also said she had gone to Ghomeshi’s home weeks later when he suddenly grabbed her hair again “really hard” and began “punching” her in the head multiple times with what felt like a “closed fist,” adding that her ears were ringing and she felt as though she was going to faint.
On Monday, Redgrave told Global News she had found out about Ghomeshi’s podcast after being approached by a reporter from another media outlet in downtown Toronto. She said it happened after signing paperwork related to her non-profit organization Coming Forward, which is aimed at providing resources and education for survivors of sexual assault, violence and trauma. Redgrave said in April 2016 she fought to have the publication ban on her identity lifted in order to launch Coming Forward.
Redgrave’s testimony on two counts of sexual assault was ultimately discounted by Justice William B. Horkins, who said in his judgment that he had found several inconsistencies and areas of concern with her statements to police, media and the court.
Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC in October 2014 after the public broadcaster said it had seen “graphic evidence” he had physically injured a woman.
The news was followed by numerous allegations of sexual and physical assault and the high-profile eight-day trial began in February 2016 with Redgrave, “Trailer Park Boys” actress Lucy DeCoutere and another woman whose identity is protected under publication ban as the complainants.
Ghomeshi was acquitted of four counts of sexual assault one count of overcome resistance by choking in March 2016 and he publicly apologized to a fourth complainant in May 2016, when he signed a peace bond that led to the withdrawal of the final count of sexual assault.
Redgrave said the past year has been a big learning experience as she works to help others affected by trauma.
“I go to a lot of trials and I watch and see what’s going on,” she said.
“I’m finding a lot of similarities and that, so my last year has been about learning and finding out where we need to improve and what’s missing in this system.”
Throughout the court process, negative comments were made about the victims and their behaviour – comments Redgrave said shows society has a “long way to go” in terms of education on sexual assault.
“It actually made me realize that we aren’t a trauma-informed society and if we were, people would probably not be so quick to judge a behaviour,” she said, while encouraging survivors to come forward.
“It’s hard to understand what it’s like to go through until you go through it. It’s quite an experience and it’s not one I wish on anyone.”
“But I always say if you have the strength to do it, do it, because if we keep quiet, it won’t change and we can’t keep sweeping sexual violence under the carpet and letting it continue we need to start speaking up.”