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What is a peace bond, and what does it mean for Jian Ghomeshi?

What is a peace bond, and what does it mean for Jian Ghomeshi?
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Today at Old City Hall, Crown prosecutors are expected to withdraw the remaining sexual assault charge against ex-CBC host Jian Ghomeshi. Although this would spare Ghomeshi a second sexual assault trial (his first one, in which he was cleared of all charges, wrapped up in March), it’s expected that he’ll have to jump through one final legal hoop: there are reports that he will have to sign a peace bond, and possibly also make some sort of statement in court in which he acknowledges his alleged behaviour.

A peace bond is not a criminal conviction, but it does offer some protection to the complainant in the case, Kathryn Borel, who says Ghomeshi assaulted her when they were both working at CBC. “A peace bond is an agreement that you enter into with the court to keep the peace and be of good behaviour,” said Indira Stewart, a criminal defence attorney who practises at Simcoe Chambers. “It’s relatively common in cases involving allegations like assault and criminal harassment. In my experience they’re less common in sexual assault cases, but they are issued.”

The bond would likely require Ghomeshi to stay away from the complainant for a period of at least 12 months. “Typically there’s a condition prohibiting contact with the complainant, except with that person’s written, revokable consent,” said Stewart. Breaching the peace bond would be a criminal offence.

Despite press reports to the contrary, it’s not likely Ghomeshi will make a full public apology. “In my experience, I’ve never had a client issue an apology,” Stewart said. “Typically when a client enters into a peace bond, you state clearly on the record that your client makes no admission whatsoever with respect to the allegations. I’d be pretty surprised if he was going to accept criminal liability in any way.”

Today’s court proceedings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

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