The worst moment you will ever have as a detective (aside from getting shot) is standing in court and watching some guilty asshole walk free on a technicality. The gut-burning frustration as you watch him shake hands with his lawyer, the smirk he tosses at you on the way out the door and the victim’s tears are intolerable. And all you can do is sit there, grit your teeth and tell yourself: “Next time. We’ll get him next time.” It’s happened to me more than once and it was the first thing I thought of after learning about the Ghomeshi acquittal.
I know the frustration the cops and the Crown are feeling right now. Legally speaking, Jian Ghomeshi is not guilty. But they know he is. And, bound as they are by oaths and law, they can say nothing further on the matter. But as a private detective who works the street, I’m not bound by such strictures. I’ll tell you what I think.
Jian Ghomeshi is a shit-rat.
I’ve arrested a dozen Jian Ghomeshis. Male abusers are a type that cops and PIs learn to recognize. We all have our tricks but the big red flag for me is a certain watery weakness in the eyes – a lack of male confidence that translates into violence toward women. Often these guys are intelligent and have learned to leverage various systems (social, legal, economic) to their advantage. In Ghomeshi’s case, he possessed the added cachet of celebrity which, let’s face it, is a powerful aphrodesiac. As host of CBC Radio’s ever-popular Q, Ghomeshi radiated progressive male charm. He was hip, he was happening, he was multi-cultural. And he glowed with the kind of soft-spoken charm that is the very antithesis of every white male authority figure Canadian women of my generation grew up knowing. By all reports the Q host was a welcoming figure, always glad to meet you for a drink, listen to your concerns and invite you back to his place, where he was only too happy to beat the crap out of you.
When you mention the word predator, most people think of a powerful creature like a wolf or bear – beings designed by nature to be swift and strong, adapted to their task of survival by hunting. But human predators, in my experience, are the opposite. We all have our weaknesses – areas where nature short-changed us, intellectually, emotionally or physically. Most of us learn to compensate (say, by going to the gym) because the mathematics of survival demands evolution. It’s hard work. In my case, the strictures of my profession demanded I overcome a lifetime habit of sloth. Getting my fat ass accustomed to a daily regimen of 100 crunches/push-ups and a 3 km run required a painfully counter-intuitive effort but a necessary one if I expected to pass the physically grueling PARE test and meet the demands of tactical combat and handcuff training. We are each called to meet and overcome our weaknesses in order to maximize our chances at survival.
Human predators adopt a different strategy. Rather than address and work to improve their own weaknesses, they instead cope by identifying and exploiting those of others. Over time this becomes a habit – a survival strategy predicated upon preying on whatever weakness, insecurities and lack of confidence they happen upon. The criminal world is full of such types: dealers who force addicts to steal in order to feed a habit or pimps who force women to turn tricks in exchange for food or shelter. But not all crimes are so public. At the more private end of the spectrum are the abusive parents, the pedophile priests or monsters like Jian Ghomeshi who turn dates into private arenas of pain for young women guilty only of seeking acceptance, friendship, love. Predators often lead surprisingly successful lives, parlaying their strategies into custom cars, flashy bling or (in Jian’s case) a spot as a national celebrity. Victims end up looking on in disbelief as their abusers move from strength to strength – an all-too-common form of torture in today’s world. Where, they wonder, is justice?
Like I said: standing in court and watching some guilty asshole walk free on a technicality is one of the worst moments you’ll ever have.
Jian Ghomeshi lures young women into a position of intimacy and trust before physically abusing them – in effect, brutalizing them when they are at their most vulnerable. This is no beginner’s trick. Ghomeshi’s activities bear all the hallmarks of a lifelong abuser – someone who has studied the particular vulnerabilities of young women and learned to exploit them to devastating effect. He knows not to leave bruises, and to create just enough ambiguity and wiggle room for himself to inspire the kind of verdict we saw last week. By dint of an inconsistency in testimony, he walks free to abuse again. And if statistics are any guide, the likelihood of his becoming a recidivist offender are high. Given his profile as a human predator with a survival strategy of preying on the vulnerability of others, I’d say it’s a dead certainty.
And therein lies his downfall.
The problem with a survival strategy like Ghomeshi’s is that it follows a law of diminishing returns. This is what led to his arrest in the first place. Like a drug addict who needs ever greater doses or a serial killer who must pick up the tempo to regain that first high, Ghomeshi the abuser eventually reached the point at which his need for violence was so great he began to leave a trail – a trail that started on social media and ended up in the court room. This is a pathological pattern, one deeply ingrained within Ghomeshi’s psyche. His need for violence will not abate. If anything, he has been keeping it under wraps for months – staying “out of trouble” per counsel’s recommendation. He is probably desperate for a “fix” and will need to strike again soon. He may use a prostitute, or pay some female confederate hush money to put up with a battering. But this won’t be enough. Like a caged lion fed on meat powder, he will long for a return to the savannah where he can hunt freely and taste the blood of a fresh kill.
One day, Jian Ghomeshi will cross the line and someone will be there waiting: a cop, a PI, someone’s brother or boyfriend or father. He will walk into the wrong nightclub or show up at the wrong party, say or do something that leads to an arrest and conviction or some more traditional form of justice at the hands of men furious at how he has betrayed our gender. One way or the other, his dirty road will lead to the court room or the emergency room where justice will be done. Old time cons used to talk about building a big sin. Jian Ghomshi has spent a lifetime building his, and the time is coming for him to pay the piper.
Like we say on the street: what goes around, comes around.