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Lucy DeCoutere wrote letter to Ghomeshi, court hears

In this courtroom sketch, witness Lucy DeCoutere, second from right, is questioned by Crown attorney Corie Langdon, in court in Toronto on Feb. 4.

Alexandra Newbould/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Jian Ghomeshi's defence counsel sought on Friday to depict one of his accusers as a confused and lovelorn friend who lied to authorities about her relationship with him. Marie Henein presented to court an affectionate six-page letter Lucy DeCoutere wrote to the former CBC personality days after she has alleged he choked and slapped her in his home in July, 2003, and playful e-mails sent over the ensuing months.

The actress steadfastly maintained that her communications did not negate the fact that Mr. Ghomeshi assaulted her without consent.

A day earlier, Ms. DeDoutere insisted during cross-examination by Ms. Henein that she sought contact with Mr. Ghomeshi after the incident only in an attempt to "normalize" the distressing experience she had on their first date. However, Ms. DeCoutere was forced to admit on Friday that she sent him more than two dozen e-mails and Facebook messages over the next 2 1/2 years, including several suggesting they meet. Ms. DeCoutere said she had forgotten the e-mails, which were exhumed from Mr. Ghomeshi's personal archive.

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Noting Ms. DeCoutere had told police she and Mr. Ghomeshi were not friends, and that they only crossed paths incidentally after the alleged assault, Ms. Henein demanded: "Are you prepared to admit that was a lie?" Ms. DeCoutere replied that she had indeed tried to meet Mr. Ghomeshi before an October, 2003, industry event that they would both attend because she wanted to encounter him "on my terms."

Pressed by Ms. Henein on why she failed to tell police and the Crown of her more nuanced relationship with Mr. Ghomeshi until a late disclosure about some e-mails before her court appearance this week, Ms. DeCoutere said she had not known when she was supposed to provide that information. "I guess my only experience with law has been watching law shows on TV based on the American paradigm."

She added she believed her initial statement to police in November, 2014, "was the first step in a longer exposition that would be teased out later."

Shown an e-mail written hours after the alleged assault in which Ms. DeCoutere tells Mr. Ghomeshi: "You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brains out," she told Ms. Henein evenly that she did not remember writing it.

"It's got my name on it," she conceded. "But it doesn't change the fact that he assaulted me and I never gave consent to him."

Another e-mail, sent less than two weeks after the incident, quotes Ms. DeCoutere telling Mr. Ghomeshi, "I think you are magic and would love to see you again."

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Ms. Henein also showed Ms. DeCoutere a photograph of her and Mr. Ghomeshi singing a karaoke duet at a 2004 TV festival in Banff. She had attached it in an e-mail, with the subject heading, "Proof you can't live without me."

Ms. Henein had one more surprise for Ms. DeCoutere: A six-page handwritten letter she wrote days after the alleged incident in which she reflects warmly on the time she and Mr. Ghomeshi had spent together, apologizes for behaving oddly, and suggests she was star-struck on their first meeting the previous month at a 2003 Banff TV festival. "You were too sparkly," she explains.

Ms. Henein read the entire letter aloud and then, in a theatrical flourish, asked Ms. DeCoutere to read the final line: "I love your hands. Lucy."

Asked by the Crown to discuss her motivations behind writing the letter, Ms. DeCoutere said she had forgotten about writing it, and had not seen it since sending it in July, 2003. "I feel like this letter has got a weirdly apologetic tone, like I've done something wrong," she said. Then she noted that the final line "is me pointing love to the very thing that he used to hurt me."

Ms. DeCoutere says in the letter that she wanted to send the handwritten communication rather than an e-mail because "letters are keepers. Once delivered, you may re-read this, tuck it under your pillow … burn it, whatever."

Mr. Ghomeshi kept it for more than 12 years.

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Ms. DeCoutere, who has become a prominent Canadian advocate for sexual assault survivors since she came forward with her own story about Mr. Ghomeshi in October, 2014, is the only one of three complainants in the case who has asked that her identity not be protected by a publication ban. After the conclusion of her testimony, her counsel read a statement to media on the courthouse steps that said the actress "maintains her allegations, and remains resolute in her decision to come forward."

Gillian Hnatiw added: "Lucy wants survivors of violence to know that what they do in the aftermath when they are harmed in no way changes the truth."

The judge-only trial, which is being heard by Justice William Horkins of the Ontario Court of Justice, resumes on Monday.

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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