10 Things I’ve Learned from the Ghomeshi Trial

While some of you may feel the Jian Ghomeshi verdict is sooooo last week (literally and figuratively), it’s taken me a couple of days to let everything sink in.

First there was the frustration with the verdict.

Second there was the need to understand how that verdict came to be. Let me tell you folks, it’s a lost day when you don’t learn something new. And in that spirit, I present to you:

THE 10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM THE GHOMESHI TRIAL

If I ever find myself in the terrifying position of testifying in my own Sexual Assault case, there are some key points I will need to remember if I want a successful outcome from the legal process and the Court of Public Opinion.

  1. “Justice” System is a bit of a misnomer in this case. Let’s go with “The Courts”. Our laws make it rather daunting for victims of Sexual Assault to come forward.
  2. Although more women have come forward to report their own sexual assaults following the exposure of this case, critics say it will take many more women to report sexual assault before the standards change. THAT’S encouraging. Can we get some more outrage brewing out here ladies?
  3. I have to depict myself as being sexually worldly, but not a “freak”, and certainly not a puritan. I will have to be comfortable talking about sex, but I better not make other people uncomfortable when I do it. (Note to self – look up definition of “Slut Shaming”.)
  4. I can’t show that I own or enjoy my own sexuality. Remember, it’s up to other people to objectify women, but we cannot be seen as using our bodies for that very same outcome. (Note to self – make sure to delete all photos where I’m wearing a bathing suit. Both of them.)
  5. I cannot allow myself to contact the accused following the alleged incident. After all, no one would reach out to this person again, right? I’m not entitled to demand clarification? Explanation? Frustration? I will have to hope I’m never in the same line of work, social circle, family, etc.  so I don’t have to interact with him. ‘Cause I’m not supposed to.
  6. I need to become an expert on automobiles. No one likes to be called a liar because they cannot remember the type of car the accused drove at the time of the incident.
  7. Same goes for houses, geography, cuisine, fashion, public transit. Basically EVERYTHING. If you can’t answer with authority, you must be fabricating.
  8. Don’t look like a know it all. You will look rehearsed and convey that you are trapping the accused. Yes, I realize this conflicts with #7 – deal with it.
  9. Never forget anything I have told others about this incident. This includes, but is not limited to: police, family, friends, colleagues, other victims. Again, basically EVERYONE. Additionally – make sure I commit all social media and electronic communications to memory so that it doesn’t look like misleading police or the courts. I will have to have the world’s greatest recall, without looking like I was deliberately creating the evidence and framing the accused.
  10. Understand that even though one of the hardest things I will ever do is to come forward to police to discuss one of the most intimate, and therefore traumatizing events of my life, that I will be dissected, insulted, maligned, vilified, labeled, scrutinized, criticized, objectified and ostracized. And the alleged attacker with never have to utter a word to defend his actions.

“Innocent until proven guilty.” Who? Of what?

Blind, Deaf and Dumb Justice

I realize I don’t usually post this often, but I had to comment on this. 

What if you were told you had to give up 10 years of your life? There really isn’t a “great” decade to give up, but I can tell you the 10 years I know I couldn’t live without – 16-26.

During this time, I completed my college education, met my husband, married him, got my first job, first car and first house, along with my first child. I made friendships that have lasted to this day, and said goodbye to people who passed away. These were all significant events that led to me becoming the person I am today.

Now, imagine those years were taken from you for no. good. reason.

That would mean you are Brian Banks.

 

Brian’s story broke yesterday and today. It is chilling.

In 2002 he was a 16 year-old high school student who had a promising career in football. He had a full scholarship to USC and had no reason to believe he wouldn’t be playing in the NFL. He was going to live The Dream.

But 15-year-old Wanita Gibson had other plans. She told authorities that Brian kidnapped and raped her. He was brought up on charges and thanks to a brutal “Justice” system, and the joke that is “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”. On poor legal advice, (he was told he’d get 18 months instead of 40 years a finding of guilt) he pleaded No Contest, which meant he could take a plea deal. His lawyer felt the court would throw the book at a big, black teenaged male. Except it wasn’t 18 months…..

The kicker is – there was no evidence. This was strictly a He Said – She Said. Why did she level the allegation? All that has been revealed is that it was something he said, that she didn’t like. Certainly not anything worthy of what he received.

So he went to a State Penitentiary. Adolescence over. Dreams evaporated. Life on hold.

Until now. He is 26.

Wanita reached out to her “attacker” through facebook. It’s remarkable that she had the nerve to do this after her deceit, but the depths of her reprehensible behaviour were not limited to this. Amazingly, Brian accepted her friendship request. She then told him that she had lied about the attack, and hoped they could move past it. “Let bygones be bygones.”

*crickets*

What.

The.

HELL?!

It would seem that the “victim” in this crime had fared well. Follow Brian’s conviction and incarceration, Miss Thing decided to sue the high school where the “incident’ took place for lack of security (methinks cameras would have been helpful to prove Brian’s innocence – do YOU see the irony?) and was awarded $1.5 million.

Yup – that my friends, is rock bottom. Money taken out of an already taxed education system to reinforce the lie that ruined a man’s life.

While Brian Banks’ case was immediately taken on by California Innocence Project. Regardless, Brian was branded a convict, and a sex offender. He missed his prom, his chance to be a college star and what most likely would have been a promising career in the National Football League. I don’t want to think about the experiences he did have, thanks to the education he received in jail.

The first injustice is what has happened to Brian Banks. The second is to women all over the world who actually have suffered through kidnapping and sexual assault. It takes a great deal of strength to stand up to someone who has violated you and this woman has added insult to injury.

So what should happen to Wanita Gibson?

In a perfect world, an eye for an eye would apply. She could sit in a jail for the better part of 10 years. She could miss out on the life experiences and day to day existence she has enjoyed while Brian Banks was holed up in a cell. She sure as hell needs to pay back the $1.5 million she obtained fraudulently.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

As a mother, I’m horrified that my son, only two years younger than Brian was when convicted, could have his entire future hijacked by a vengeful girl. As a woman, I’m embarrassed to think that others of my gender are capable of such hateful and destructive behaviour. We cannot be so naive to think that this scenario would never happen. Gender blackmail is an ugly concept that is employed far too frequently.

Brian Banks says he has no ill will toward Wanita Gibson. He seeks no revenge. He is a better person than I, and a saint compared to her. He has said he would like to attempt a career in professional football, but the odds are against him.

I would hope one team would take a chance on him, and give him the chance. After all, doesn’t he deserve it?