Ghomeshi released on $100,000 bail, lawyer says he will plead not guilty to sex assault charges

Ghomeshi released on $100,000 bail, lawyer says he will plead not guilty to sex assault charges

Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi, charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of "overcome resistance - choking", has been released on $100,000 bail.

According to a press release, Toronto Police say Ghomeshi, 47, voluntarily surrendered to police Wednesday morning. In a 25-minute hearing Wednesday afternoon, Ghomeshi was formally charged. His next court appearance will be Jan. 8.

Under terms of his release, Ghomeshi must turn over his Canadian passport and live with his mother in Toronto. His mother is his surety.

Ghomeshi left the courthouse in a crush of media without saying a word. However, his lawyer, prominent criminal defence attorney Marie Henein, is quoted as saying that Ghomeshi will plead not guilty to the charges.

"We will address these allegations fully and directly in a courtroom," Henein said. "We will not be making any further media statements, nor will Mr. Ghomeshi be making any further media statements."

The charge of overcome resistance by choking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years in jail.

Ghomeshi, the former host of CBC Radio's popular 'Q' program, was fired by the CBC on October 26 when allegations about sexual abuse surfaced. He promptly filed a $55 million lawsuit against the public broadcaster and defended himself on Facebook.

According to the CBC, Ghomeshi was fired when management saw "graphic evidence" that he had allegedly harmed a woman.

On Tuesday, Ghomeshi dropped his lawsuit and settled with the CBC. Ghomeshi is expected to pay $18,000 in legal costs to CBC as part of the agreement, CBC has said.

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Since Ghomeshi was fired, nine women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, some dating back over a decade. All of the women have described simiar events. Only three of the women spoke publicly, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere. Women describe incidents of choking and hitting. The three women filed complaints with police.

In a statement released Wednesday, DeCoutere said:

"The past month has seen a major shift in the conversation about violence against women. It has been an overwhelming and painful time for many people, including myself, but also very inspiring. I hope that victim's voices continue to be heard and that this is the start of a change that is so desperately needed."

Wednesday's announcement are the first charges Ghomeshi has faced in the ongoing scandal.

On Facebook, Ghomeshi admitted that he engaged in "rough sex," or BDSM, but said that any acts of violence were consensual.

“I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer,” Ghomeshi posted on Oct. 26.

He has since removed his profiles from Facebook and Twitter, and has not spoken to the media.

A CBC spokesman declined to comment on the charges against Ghomeshi.

"We don't comment on criminal investigations or matters before the court," said Chuck Thompson.

The CBC has launched an independent investigation looking into harassment allegations in the workplace. The inquiry is being headed up by prominent Toronto employment lawyer Janice Rubin. The broadcaster has also begun its search for a permanent replacement for Ghomeshi on "Q" and is looking at possibly changing the name of the program in the future.

He had also filed a union grievance against the CBC alleging dismissal without cause — a matter which still remains active.

(With files from The Canadian Press)