BUSINESS

CBC's Jian Ghomeshi Investigation: Broadcaster Hires Third Party

10/30/2014 10:00 EDT | Updated 12/30/2014 05:59 EST
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TORONTO - The CBC offered counselling to its employees Thursday as more women stepped forward with allegations of "abusive behaviour" by Jian Ghomeshi, and announced it is hiring a third-party company to conduct an investigation amid swirling accusations about the ousted "Q" radio host.

Ghomeshi, meanwhile, took to Facebook and vowed to fight his detractors head-on, as Toronto's police chief urged "any person" who has been the victim of a sexual assault to report it. None of Ghomeshi's accusers has so far said they've gone to authorities with their claims.

CBC announced the counselling services in a memo to staff after reports in the Toronto Star and on CBC detailed disturbing new claims about Ghomeshi from a series of women. Two of the women have chosen to be identified publicly: "Trailer Park Boys" actor Lucy DeCoutere and author Reva Seth.

"Over the last 12 hours, as you undoubtedly already know, we have become aware of further accounts of impropriety towards our employees (and other individuals) through another Toronto Star story, on 'As It Happens' last night and again this morning on 'The Current,'" Heather Conway, executive director of CBC English Services, said in the memo. "These reports are extremely disturbing and of great concern to all of us."

She said the public broadcaster was "currently in the process of selecting a third-party company who will conduct a rigorous, independent investigation."

In addition, Conway said the public broadcaster is making on-site and telephone counselling available to employees, adding she was proud of the "professionalism" staffers have shown as they face "difficult and disturbing" news.

Thursday's message from Ghomeshi was the first time the radio star has been heard from since his startling Sunday night Facebook post, in which he detailed his interest in "rough sex" that is consensual. He also claimed in that missive that CBC had fired him because of the risk that his sex life would become public "as a result of a campaign of false allegations."

In the latest post, he thanked his supporters and promised to confront the allegations "directly" but added he would not discuss the matter with the media.

Known for her role as Lucy on "The Trailer Park Boys," DeCoutere received an outpouring of online support Thursday after she told — in the Star and on CBC-Radio — of a 2003 date she said she had with Ghomeshi. She alleged the radio host slapped and choked her.

She said she allowed her name to be published because her story was not as disturbing to discuss as some that have been detailed in anonymous accounts.

"My story, (for) me to talk about it is a little upsetting but it's not traumatic. I wasn't terribly hurt by him," she said. "It's the women who are talking about this (and) won't come forward with their names. They're obviously feeling like they will be targeted in some way and that their lives will be impacted negatively. I'm OK with that."

Some of the other alleged victims told the Toronto Star that they feared repercussions online if they allowed the newspaper to publish their names.

While chuckling that she might be "naive," DeCoutere said she's not concerned about such a backlash.

"I'm sure there's a chance that there will be attacks online, but I don't care," she told "The Current." "I mean, people who know me know that I'm not a bad person and people who don't know me are not part of my life."

She added: "I will take it if that means somebody doesn't have to because they're dealing with something a bit bigger."

DeCoutere said she didn't go to police after the date with Ghomeshi, explaining she was left confused and puzzled.

Seth detailed her allegations in a first-person account in the Huffington Post on Thursday.

The latest accusations against Ghomeshi had multiple reverberations.

Carleton University issued a statement saying it was investigating an allegation involving Ghomeshi that may involve one of its journalism students or graduates.

Meanwhile, prominent Canadian musicians and authors put their names to a petition in support of the women who have come forward with claims against the "Q" star.

Navigator — the crisis management specialists who reportedly steered Ghomeshi through the initial hours of the allegations — said it was not representing him and his publicist, Rock-it Promotions, dropped him as well.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair confirmed there is no ongoing investigation into the allegations against Ghomeshi, saying someone would have to file a complaint for one to be initiated.

"I would like to encourage anyone who has, and not just in the incident in which you're asking about today, but in any circumstance where any person has been the victim of a sexual assault, I want to encourage them to come forward and report," he told reporters.

Ghomeshi is suing the CBC for $55 million for defamation and breach of trust. The corporation has said it will "vigorously" defend itself against his lawsuit.

In a Star story published earlier this week, three women alleged that Ghomeshi was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the run-up to such encounters. Ghomeshi — through his lawyer — responded that he "does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory."

The Star also reported in that story earlier this week that a fourth woman who worked at the CBC alleged that Ghomeshi "approached her from behind and cupped her rear end in the Q studio'' and made a sexually obscene comment to her during a story meeting. The Star reported that Ghomeshi told the newspaper that he did not understand why it was continuing to pursue allegations when "my lawyers have already told you it is untrue."