New reports in the Toronto Star and Canadaland podcast detail further allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace by former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi.
Ghomeshi was fired by CBC on Oct. 26, leading him to defend his "tastes in the bedroom" on Facebook and launch a $55-million wrongful dismissal lawsuit. In the days since, several women have made allegations in media reports of sexual and physical abuse as well as workplace harassment. Toronto police have also opened an investigation after three women filed complaints. Now, there are new allegations involving CBC employees, interns and jobseekers.
The Toronto Star reported today that, according to a former student and a journalism professor, Western University J-school students were warned against internships at Ghomeshi’s CBC radio show "Q" due to "concerns about 'inappropriate' behaviour toward young women by the now-fired host."
The dean of Western's journalism school confirmed that students were no longer being sent to "Q," but refused to answer if Ghomeshi's behaviour towards female students was the cause, saying only that "the report on that internship indicated that the student was asked to run everyday errands not connected to journalism."
An anonymous student involved in an alleged 2012 incident told the Star that she was "inappropriately touched and texted" after she had contacted Q's executive producer to attend a taping in hopes of landing a job.
She says Ghomeshi invited her into the studio after the show, commented on her looks and engaged in small talk. She says she thought he might be considering her to work at Q but then "he gave me a bear hug and he lifted me up. As I'm walking towards the door, he was behind me, kind of hugging me from behind and walking with me. That’s when I thought, whoa, this is kind of a bit much."
He later texted her, asking for "non-work-related drink" date but took offence when she inquired about employment. "Thank God I didn't agree to meeting up with him."
Carleton University's journalism program launched an investigation late last week in light of a tweet from April alleging sexual violence involving Ghomeshi and one of their current or former students.
On Monday, journalism officials from both Carleton and Ryerson told the Toronto Star they are not aware of any incidents involving their students.
Over on Jesse Brown's Canadaland podcast, the media critic spoke to former Q producer Roberto Veri, who said "we all knew about Jian" and apologized.
Veri says he saw the sexual harassment incident that was described in the an Oct. 26 Toronto Star article, in which a woman alleged Ghomeshi said he wanted to "hate f--- her" and "cupped her buttocks."
"I FB messenger'd her to tell her that I was sorry that I didn't do anything, that I saw it first of all because I turned my head away when he went up behind her. She was leaning over her desk between the corridor of the executive producer's office and her desk. So she was leaned over contrary to where she sat. And she's bending over working on some papers. And he came up behind her, grabbed her by the waist and humped her four or five times. He drove his pelvis into her buttocks and a big smile on his face. So I looked over at that and just sort of put my head down again. I didn't know what the nature of the relationship was or if she was okay. When stuff like that does happen...
I think he might have even looked over at me when I turned my head. I was there. It felt like an episode of HBO's Rome where they do anything in front of the slaves. I was apologizing to her. She said, 'If you back me up' because the union has no record. I witnessed it. This is the only reason I'm weighing into this matter is because I love that person and I was sorry that I didn't ask about it afterwards. I ignored it."
The anonymous woman Veri was referring to also elaborated on the alleged 2010 incident in the National Post, where she said she informed an executive producer.
"[His] comment to me was …'He's never going to change, you're a malleable person, let’s talk about how you can make this a less toxic work environment for you. No one was going to talk to Jian, he was too big. The show was a f—-ing juggernaut at that point. His face and name were inextricably linked with the brand of Q."
The second woman, a Montreal-based CBC producer who "dreamed of being on Q," told the Toronto Star she met Ghomeshi at a book signing and alleges he took her to his hotel room and threw her against the wall. She says she performed oral sex “to get out of there” and didn’t complain to managers because “I felt like Jian was CBC god."
Yet another report emerged on Friday, published in Headspace and written by Elisabeth Faure, whom the site describes as "a Concordia journalism graduate, former CBC Montreal employee and Q intern."
Faure says that Ghomeshi never sexually harassed her, but the opening of her article indicates that his behaviour was known at the CBC.
"So, did Jian Ghomeshi try to sleep with you?"
This was the first question the then-Director of Current Affairs for CBC Radio in my hometown asked me the first day I got back from a 6-week unpaid internship at Q in Toronto. Her question, asked in front of a small group of co-workers in an open newsroom, elicited gales of laughter from all assembled. Because, you know, back then, it was funny what a reputation Jian (or JG, as he was known in Q circles) had for being a total sleazebag.