The women who have made allegations of sexual abuse against the former CBC host say he never raised the topic of BDSM.
By: Kevin Donovan
The women making abuse allegations against Jian Ghomeshi — there are now 15 — say he never raised the topic of BDSM or asked for consent.
New allegations include a woman, a student at the time, who said the former host of the CBC Radio program Q tried to smother her by covering her nose and mouth with his hands, and others who describe how, with no warning, Ghomeshi made guttural snarling noises, hit, slapped, bit, choked them and in some cases pulled their hair so hard they were yanked down to the floor or onto a bed.
In one case, a woman said Ghomeshi did ask at one point if “I was into choking” and told me “that it would heighten the experience” of sex. When the woman said she was not (this was in 2011) she said Ghomeshi became “sulky and distant.” At another point she recalls how he struck her across the face and “called me a slut.”
In the incident where the woman alleges a suffocation attempt (in 2012), the former student said she had a tumultuous five-month relationship that included numerous assaults. She left him after one particularly traumatic incident in his house where she alleges he was suffocating her.
“I could die here tonight and no one would know what happened,” said the woman, who said she used her phone to contact a girlfriend from Ghomeshi’s bathroom. Her friend told her to “get out of there.”
This woman, and the others the Star have interviewed, said Ghomeshi never used the term “BDSM,” which refers to bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. In his Facebook posting where he defended his actions, Ghomeshi said he was part of a BDSM community where these activities are all consensual and condoned. People in Toronto who are part of that community have contacted the Star and said that Ghomeshi’s alleged activities do not fit their lifestyle.
The Star’s original stories, published a month ago, detailed accounts of six women who say they were assaulted by Ghomeshi, and two women (both CBC employees) who said they were sexually harassed. Toronto author and lawyer Reva Seth added her allegation in a posting on Huffington Post. That brought the total to seven women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations.
Since that time, the Star has received information from seven more women making abuse allegations. One other woman, who has not spoken to the media, made a complaint to police and her complaint forms part of the police investigation that led to four charges of sexual assault and one of overcome resistance — choking, this week.
To the Star’s knowledge, there are now 15 women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations. Two men the Star has spoken to describe incidents where Ghomeshi fondled their genitals in a public place without consent. The Star has also interviewed two women who, when they were as young as 16, felt that Ghomeshi inappropriately contacted, touched and flirted with them. Neither of them alleges physical or sexual assault, but found his advances unsettling. In one case, the person he made advances on was 16. Ghomeshi was 40 at the time.
None of the allegations against Ghomeshi has been tested in court. ...
By charging Jian Ghomeshi with a single count of “overcome resistance – choking” on top of four counts of sexual assault, the Crown has signalled that it intends to seek a long penitentiary sentence if Mr. Ghomeshi is convicted, legal observers say.
“It ups the ante for sure,” Ottawa defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski said. “It’s a beacon of the severity of the charges.”
The maximum penalty for overcoming resistance by choking to commit an indictable offence is life in prison, while the maximum for sexual assault is 10 years. Not often used, the charge of overcoming resistance by choking for the purpose of committing another offence was written into Canada’s original Criminal Code in 1892, and until 1972, whipping was one of the prescribed punishments, Osgoode Hall law professor Benjamin Berger said.
“It is very much like [a charge of] attempt murder except the Crown doesn’t have to prove the intent to cause death,” Calgary defence lawyer Lisa Silver said.
She said the Crown, which would have participated in discussions with Toronto police before police charged Mr. Ghomeshi, probably had tactical reasons for choosing that charge. Other options in a sexual-assault case are to lay a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault; both carry a maximum of 14 years in prison.
“Why didn’t they charge bodily harm? It’s hard to prove. There’s a whole area of case law. There’s also the issue of whether two consenting adults in a sexual relationship can consent to bodily harm. If it’s not sexual assault, you can consent to bodily harm but it hasn’t been completely decided for sexual [assault]. So the Crown is trying to get away from the tough issues, yet still have the ability to show that these charges are serious and that they will be asking for a large penitentiary sentence if he gets convicted.”
Mr. Lewandowski said that a cross-examination of someone who alleges she was choked would be tricky, unless there were e-mails or other evidence that the person consented to be choked. “The lawyer will say, ‘that was one of your fantasies.’ But if none of those collateral sources [of evidence] are available, you’ll be stuck with her answers – ‘that’s not something I asked for. It was completely unprovoked.’”
Overcoming resistance by choking is an offence of specific intent, meaning the Crown would have to prove it was done for the purpose of committing a serious offence such as sexual assault, Mr. Lewandowski said. Sexual assault is a general intent offence, requiring that the Crown prove unwanted touching of a sexual nature.
He estimated the case would take a year or two to reach trial.
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's top university took the dominant role this past Wednesday when it gave a firm “no” to students who wanted to start a school-sanctioned club centered on BDSM, the broad range of erotic practices mostly identified with bondage and dominance role-play.
A committee made up of students, teachers and administrators at National Taiwan University convened that day to hear proposals for new student groups, but hopes for a BDSM-centric club soon unraveled when it only managed to harness support from six of 17 committee members.
The case has gained national media attention in the days since because of preconceptions shackled to BDSM practices and the clashing images of people tying themselves up in rope and chains for pleasure against the archetype of the “guai guai” (well behaved) NTU student.
The president of the still unendorsed BDSM Club, who calls himself Lisa Lu, said that while NTU may be the first Taiwanese school to try to set up a society for ropes and role-play, it is not unprecedented at other distinguished institutions on top of the academic world.
“There don't seem to be any others (in Taiwan),” Lu told CNA. “But as for schools abroad, I have learned that Harvard has an S&M student group on campus.”
Harvard gave approval its local BDSM society in 2012, but it's far from the only university to do so. Iowa State University established a bondage club called Cuffs back in 2003, and Conversio Virium at Columbia University, established 1994, claims to be the oldest student-led bondage education group in the United States.
What all these student clubs have in common is offering a safe, welcoming environment for people practicing or interested in exploring BDSM culture. Lu's is no exception.
“It's not easy to talk about this in society as BDSM is still a taboo issue, and we face the pressure of being harassed. We want to create a place for people in this culture to meet up and work together to build their respective senses of identity,” he said.
“Our aim is to explore the diversity of eroticism through academic discussion and practice,” he said.
It's the practice part that has caused friction and made some uncomfortable, even though Lu said that only makes up “about one-fourth” of the mostly academic agenda and operates on a strict policy of informed consent. ...
The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family
By Hunter Styles
Glance at Michelle, Aimee, Micah and Ian on the street and you might assume they’re two straight couples — or two gay couples. But they’re all going home together.
That home is a large, sunny house in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. It’s where this group of four polyamorous partners — a “quad’” — live, laugh, eat and sleep under one roof.
These four adults are intimately connected to each other, but they’re also open to new flings and encounters. And so they face an unusual challenge: running a communal household while tending to the myriad romantic relationships that hold the four of them — and their lovers — together.
“It’s structured chaos,” says Michelle. “But we’ve maintained it for years now because we come together and talk about how things are playing out.”
For years, the four of them slept together on a queen-size and a king-size bed pushed together. But it’s not the hedonistic free-for-all some might imagine.
Having kids, for example, changed everything. When Aimee and Micah had their son Connor, the two beds came apart. Aimee and Micah slept alongside the crib, while Michelle and Ian — both light sleepers — moved to a different room.
But kids weren’t the only complicating factor. “Polyamory” in Latin means “many loves,” but a polyamorous household also features a surprising amount of scheduling, financial planning and debate.
For daily logistics, they use a Google Calendar and a family email list. They also share a bank account, which they discuss at quarterly finance meetings. These are Type-A people, professional and well-organized.
Michelle Driscoll, 35, works in human resources in Northampton. She is married to Aimee Bouchard, 34, a lawyer in private practice. Each also has a deep relationship with one of the two men in the house: Aimee with Micah Schneider, 43, a Springfield math instructor, and Michelle with Ian Rose, 44, who works a corporate job in Hartford. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind: the kids have four parents, not two.
Just ask Connor. Micah is “Bubba.” Ian is “Daddy.” Aimee is “Mama.” Michelle is “Mama Too.” And at the most recent parent-teacher night at Connor’s school, the four of them showed up together.
Many poly people are straight, but all members of this quad identify as bisexual. Legally, Michelle and Aimee are the two spouses. But all four are committed to each other. “I think of the quad as a single relationship that contains a lot of inter-relationships,” says Ian. ...
A recent Pew poll found that millennials have a steadily declining rate of marriage. There are several possible reasons for this, but I think it highlights a broader, changing reality: We're in the midst of a social and cultural evolution regarding the kinds of romantic, sexual and intimate relationships men and women seek and what they experience as fulfilling.
Some forms of this shift that I describe below trigger knee-jerk, negative reactions from those who see their own moral standards and beliefs as being threatened or under attack. However, I think it's important to understand these emerging forms of relationship with an open mind to understand how and why some people may find them fulfilling and positive. Keep in mind that much of our thinking in psychology and mental health has evolved. For example, women's menstrual "blues" and homosexuality were once defined as forms of mental illness, but no longer are.
Today, interracial marriage is no longer illegal, as it was for most of the previous century. LGBT relationships have moved past the threshold of acceptance by a majority of the population. And currently, we see emerging shifts towards what some define as desirable and healthy intimate partnerships, for themselves. For example:
Polyamory: The subject of an annual conference, polyamory relationships are those in which people have multiple partnerships at once with the full knowledge of all involved. A comprehensive report in LiveScience describes how jealousy works in polyamorous relationships, how children in polyamorous families experience them. It also explores several other new findings, including that some polyamorous people report feeling energized by their multiple relationships and say that good feelings in one translate to good feelings in others.
Open relationships: A variant of polyamory, open relationships received some attention in the 1970s among young baby boomers (e.g. the 1969 movie "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice") and looks like it's re-emerging in new form -- now called consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships. In them, committed partners mutually agree not to be sexually and/or romantically exclusive to one another. Some recent research finds, for example, that up to 40 percent of men and up to 25 percent of women in a monogamous relationship said they would switch to a CNM if they lived in a world where everyone had open relationships. Currently, the research finds a continuum: some people are completely monogamous, others are completely nonmonogamous, and many more are somewhere in between. ...
A Connecticut jury has awarded about $638,000 to a Greenwich woman who sued a man she alleged had a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with her mentally ill and disabled daughter.
The Stamford Superior Court jury returned the verdict Thursday in favor of Mary Kortner, who said her daughter, Caroline Kendall Kortner, could not have consented to an abusive sexual relationship with Greenwich resident Craig Martise because of her mental state.
Caroline Kendall Kortner died from an undisclosed illness at age 39 in 2010, seven years after her relationship with Martise.
Martise said he did nothing wrong and the relationship was consensual. A jury found in his favor in 2009, but the state Supreme Court overturned the verdict in June.
Martise and his lawyer didn't immediately return messages Tuesday.
OUR strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.
We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.
How many rapes occur on our campuses is disputed. The best, most carefully controlled study was conducted for the Department of Justice in 2007; it found that about one in 10 undergraduate women had been raped at college.
But because of low arrest and conviction rates, lack of confidentiality, and fear they won’t be believed, only a minuscule percentage of college women who are raped — perhaps only 5 percent or less — report the assault to the police. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of college men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large, escaping serious punishment.
Against this background, the federal government in 2011 mandated a ramped-up sexual assault adjudication process at American colleges, presumably believing that campuses could respond more aggressively than the criminal justice system. So now colleges are conducting trials, often presided over by professors and administrators who know little about law or criminal investigations. At one college last year, the director of a campus bookstore served as a panelist. The process is inherently unreliable and error-prone.
At Columbia University and Barnard College, more than 20 students have filed complaints against the school for mishandling and rejecting their sexual assault claims. But at Vassar College, Duke University, The University of Michigan and elsewhere, male students who claim innocence have sued because they were found guilty. Mistaken findings of guilt are a real possibility because the federal government is forcing schools to use a lowered evidentiary standard — the “more likely than not” standard, which is much less exacting than criminal law’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement — at their rape trials. At Harvard, 28 law professors recently condemned the university’s new sexual assault procedures for lacking “the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and for being “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”
Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?
Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.
Consider the illogical message many schools are sending their students about drinking and having sex: that intercourse with someone “under the influence” of alcohol is always rape. Typical is this warning on a joint Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith website: “Agreement given while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not considered consent”; “if you have not consented to sexual intercourse, it is rape.” ...
On New Year’s Eve in 2005, Christy and Mark Kidd — six years into living in New York City, but still lonely — found an ad in Time Out for an all-you-can-drink bash. Despite several dubious specifics, including a Garment District location, house music and a $100 admittance fee, they went.
It was sleazy setting replete with red-velvet curtains and moist air. Down a hallway, they came upon an empty room lined with wall-to-wall mattresses.
“It was a relatively normal party,” Mark says. “Except we realized everyone in the back room was having sex.”
They wanted in. It would take longer than you might think.
Their new book, “A Modern Marriage,” is a chronicle of Christy and Mark’s lives as swingers: the group sex, the jealousy, the secrecy, the STDs and hygiene issues, the emotional and psychological dangers.
“The whole situation caught us off-guard,” Christy says.
“We were very naive,” Mark says.
Christy is now 43; Mark is 42. They’re native Texans who describe themselves as otherwise square: conservative accountants who live in Kips Bay, whose preferred drink is Dr Pepper and who didn’t know what constituted an orgy.
Both had unstable childhoods — Christy’s mom has been married five times; Mark’s, four — and say they’ve spent their lives searching for the stable relationship they share.
They’ve been married for 14 years, and swinging, they insist, has made their marriage that much stronger.
“This is a love story,” Christy says. “We’re normal. We have the same issues other people do.”
Until today, their friends and family have had no idea — but the time has come, they say, to share it all.
“We’re by no means trying to get people to become swingers, but there’s another way to live that can be amazing,” Mark says. “I would like to think we can touch people’s lives.”
At that first swingers party in 2005, Christy and Mark reacted with revulsion and excitement. The book is written in her voice only; they worried that a man’s perspective would be “too creepy.” ...