Jian Ghomeshi has been found innocent in his sexual assault trial. It is a wretched outcome because there is no doubt that he is guilty of assaulting a large number of women. When 20+ people come forward to insist that a powerful, influential, wealthy man attacked them there is no reasonable position that clings to doubt.
However, there are two component to guilt - truth, and law. Jian is guilty from a truth standpoint, no question. Unfortunately the reason he was acquitted from a law standpoint is that the women testifying against him had problems with their testimony. There were not just small inconsistencies, but large outright falsehoods that were brought to light. When you assemble their stories Jian's guilt is still completely clear, but in a trial when a witness brings out false information all the rest of their statements are no longer seen as reliable.
I understand why this is. Imagine for example Jian were accused of murder and all evidence pointed to him. Further imagine that a friend of his called Bob was providing Jian with an alibi, assuring everyone that he and Jian went to minigolf, dinner, and a movie that evening. Now imagine the prosecution proved conclusively that Bob wasn't at the movie theatre nor the mini golf park that night. We would quite reasonably conclude that Bob's testimony was extremely unreliable, and would likely ignore it in our deliberations, even if the murder took place during dinnertime.
We have to consider these things when we consider witness testimony. The law has to look at witness statements and decide how much weight to assign them because various accounts nearly always conflict.
However, that doesn't mean that we should just throw up our hands and move on. The question I want to know is why so much of the women's falsified testimony existed in the first place. Part of the issue was the women not telling the truth about their contact with Jian afterwards, and that shouldn't even be part of the process at all. If a woman comes forward to complain about an assault what happened the next day or week is *immaterial*. The police shouldn't be asking, the lawyers in court shouldn't be allowed to ask, nobody should be able to push for that information. It isn't part of the case, and for good reason, because making it part of the case is just going to generate exactly the false negative we saw in Jian's trial.
To me this miscarriage of justice should be a signal that we are asking the wrong questions. We still have to insist that people tell the truth in legal proceedings if they are to be believed - removing that restriction is a disastrous mess. However, we can stop asking assault victims all kinds of questions that aren't related to the assault, especially when those questions are of the type that people are going to want to lie about. Of course women who contacted Jian later aren't going to want to admit that they did so. Them doing so isn't an admission that the assault didn't happen, because we know for a fact that many abused people take time to get out of abusive situations for many reasons, but people will still judge them harshly for it.
When a woman is assaulted we should not look for reasons that it is her fault. Short skirts, flirty behaviour, going home with a man, these are all often cited as reasons that she deserved what she got, and that is shit that needs to stop. If we are asking women to relate all kinds of terribly embarrassing details about their sex lives and expecting perfect honesty we are going to get this same situation over again, entirely predictably. Not only that, but we are going to convince women that they should never come forward because they will be put in the position of answering such questions.
We should not be putting hurt, vulnerable people in a position where they feel tremendous pressure to lie and then disregard their other statements based on those predictable lies. Changing that is a thing that needs to happen, and it is slowly happening, but unfortunately not quickly enough for Jian to get the conviction he so richly deserves.