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article imageEx-producer airs damning story of life with Jian Ghomeshi and CBC

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 2, 2014 in Crime
A former producer on the CBC radio program the Q has gone public with allegations against Jian Ghomeshi, the CBC and her former union. Kathryn Borel previously spoke to media without revealing her name but Tuesday wrote a column in the Guardian.
Kathryn Borel: CBC job from hell
Borel has much to say but she is not simply interested in revealing to Canada the "monster" that she feels Ghomeshi was. She's also deeply unhappy with both the CBC itself and her union at the time, the Canadian Media Guild. Each has come out with supportive statements for her today but that was after seeing her column in the Guardian. Before? She thinks neither have been candid about their lack of response to what was going on at the Q and that neither supported her.
"I used to work as a radio producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation," she begins in her Guardian column. "A few months into my job in 2007, I let out a big yawn at a staff meeting and my host told me 'I want to hate fuck you, to wake you up.' I was 27 years old. I made sure never to yawn in front of him again.
"After that, there were the uninvited back massages at my desk to which it was clear I couldn’t say no," she continues. "During which my host’s hands would slide down just a little too close to the tops of my breasts. A year into my time on the job, he grabbed my rear end and claimed that he couldn't control himself because of my skirt."
These kinds of incidents continued, she writes. Ghomeshi would stand at the door to her office and unbutton two or three of his shirt's buttons, staring at her. He often played mind games with her, undermining her intelligence, her security, her "sense of self." It made her life at the CBC a trial. At night, at home, she'd question herself, go over events and wonder if she'd done something to encourage all this. But she hadn't.
Lack of action from CBC, media union
As the show grew in popularity, Borel knew that someone who worked behind the scenes was not going to be as valued as Ghomeshi — after all a big part of the Q's success was his brand. In other words, if there were a showdown she'd be the one to lose her job. So it went on and on.
Finally she went to see Timothy Neesam, her elected rep from the Canadian Media Guild. Nothing came of it, however, except that Neesam said he'd talk to her boss, Q executive producer Arif Noorani, who's left for another CBC show since Ghomeshi's firing (Borel called it being "shuffled to another show, instead of being shown the door"). She didn't believe Neesam talking to Noorani would do anything to help her, and for good reason.
"I had cried in my boss's office already, on more than one occasion, because of Ghomeshi's behaviour towards me," Borel said in the Guardian. "A couple of days later, Noorani called me in for a meeting and told me that Ghomeshi was the way he was, and that I had to figure out how to cope with that."
Friend of freelancer Jesse Brown
Movement came from a name now a big part of this story. Jesse Brown, the freelance journalist who teamed with Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan to investigate the claims that now swirl around Ghomeshi, is a friend of hers and Borel had confided in him throughout her ordeal. Brown spoke to two women who said they had been assaulted by Ghomeshi and at that time, Borel says, he contacted her and asked if she'd go public.
"But I wasn’t keen to be called a slut and a liar...and I was nervous someone would identify me publicly and, in doing so, would damage the new career and life I’d worked so hard to build. I also didn’t think my experience being sexually harassed by Ghomeshi was remotely comparable to what the victims of his assaults had gone through But Jesse persisted, and, eventually, I gave him permission to write about me anonymously."
Ghomeshi was fired on Oct. 26 after he showed CBC brass a video in which he allegedly hurt a woman, which he characterized as "rough sex." Brown and Donovan published their story in the Star at that time, and it included some of Borel's experiences but not her name or the names of the other two women.
Despite what transpired since, she is not wholly satisfied with the situation as it stands today. But she didn't have high expectations. "After how I’ve been discredited and stonewalled by both the union and CBC management in the wake of this, I shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of self-reflection and algebra of avoidance that’s being exhibited," she said.
"Management fired Ghomeshi after he showed them a graphic videotape of his violent sexual activities. Imagine what kind of person would bring a sex tape to a management meeting. Imagine the kind of permissive work environment in which this man existed that would make bringing a sex tape to his bosses seem remotely appropriate."
Last week, Ghomeshi, 47, was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one of overcome resistance — choking. He has plead not guilty to all the charges and his next court date is on January 8.
Borel: System "needs to change"
What now for Borel? Well, she's now one of just three women, along with lawyer Reva Seth and actress Lucy DeCoutere, who has allowed her name to be published, that out of a growing list that is now at 15.
Her experiences were used in countless media stories and all along she stayed anonymous. However, the tone of the story is less sensationalistic now and she felt it time to come out. And she's in touch with CBC friends and knows some are unhappy with how the CBC has not fully admitted how complicit they were in the saga.
“I don’t want to put words in the mouths of anyone but a general impression I got was that some of my old friends were frustrated with management and executives who were ducking and trying to obfuscate the larger truth about what happened, with semantic arguments and disingenuous apologies,” Borel told Torstar News Service today.
She says that the system that "obsessively propped up Jian Ghomeshi needs to change." But she's moved on. When she left the show in 2010 she made her way to Los Angeles and took up a career as a TV writer (a Kathryn Borel has a writing credit on the U.S. series Rush).
She has, in a manner, left this experience behind her but she doesn't want it to happen again to another woman and that's a reason to speak out against Ghomeshi and the CBC and her old union. But in the end she feels lucky that it didn't get as bad for her as it did for others.
"Ghomeshi never tried to sexually assault or beat me in the three years I worked with him on Q," she said. "I'm one of the lucky ones."
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