Thank you, Sarah Polley
Too little to late. Sarah Polley no doubt knew that her recent revelation about an ugly encounter with Jean Ghomeshi would subject her to criticism. If only she had come forward six years ago, when other women were in court fighting for justice, she could have helped win a guilty verdict. Her celebrity, her credibility, her place in our hearts as the innocent girl of Avonlea could have made all the difference.
Dream on! Polley took the advice of her lawyers in deciding not to come forward. And who can blame her. No matter her account that Ghomeshi, then age 28 to her 16 years, ignored her plea to remove his hands from around her neck and stop his assault. As we have seen repeatedly in courts, her accounting of the events of the crime would be given less weight than how she behaved in the aftermath.
Polley’s lawyers told her she would make a terrible witness, and they were right. Like the women who did come forward, she would have been unable to meet the legal system’s version of the perfect, unassailable victim. A true victim wouldn’t have later flattered Ghomehsi and laughed with him when appearing on his radio show.
An enduring feature of the legal system are the ignorant assumptions about how women cope in attempting to survive a violent attack and to reconcile a shocking betrayal of trust. Until this is understood, women will continue to keep silent.
Let’s let Polley know that we get it, and thank for her bravery in coming forward now.
In 2016, Ghomeshi was acquitted of sexually assaulting three women and a fourth charge was later dropped after he apologized to the fourth complainant and signed a peace bond.