In his Toronto apartment, Jonathan Black cuddles with his girlfriend of two years and opens up about the ordeal the couple have been through since the 40-year-old son of media baron Conrad Black was charged with domestic assault in 2016.
“I’m not a violent person. I would never be violent to Caroline, I love her,” Jonathan Black, who was acquitted less than two months ago, told Global News.
Caroline White, the alleged victim, is a part-time model. Black said she is a big reason he was cleared. He said she took the stand in his defence during the three-day trial, adding she underwent intense cross-examination by the Crown.
Black said White broke her wrist after an alcohol-fueled fight in the couple’s Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue-area apartment, where they lived in at the time. He said the couple was fighting because she thought he was cheating on her.
“There was some to and fro. She went to grab my phone out of my hand, pulled it once, I held on, pulled it twice, I let go, she fell backwards,” Black said.
“It was an argument, we had been drinking. She fell back and hit the television stand and got a tiny little fracture in her wrist.”
A firefighter from a fire station across the street from the couple’s apartment saw an upset White sitting on the curb waiting for a ride after the argument and asked if he could help. Black said she told him she had an injured wrist and he called paramedics. He said police also arrived and sought him. Black said he was charged with assaulting causing bodily harm. He was also charged with mischief under $5,000 in relation to the broken phone, which he said was his.
“There’s an injury, there’s an argument, it’s in a house, there’s a man and a woman — it’s a domestic,” Black said.
It soon became a media event. He said he remembered the day he was released on $25,000 bail.
Black said he was subsequently re-arrested for breaching a condition because he failed to advise the police when he moved with a surety. They also laid an additional assault charge, which he said was later dropped at trial. Black said it was enough to keep him behind bars. He said he has a prior summary conviction for making harassing phone calls and ended up spending six-and-a-half months in the Toronto South Detention Centre until the case went to trial.
“All I want people to know is that I won my case. I was exonerated,” Black said, adding he believes the crown attorney’s office was against him because he comes from a privileged background.
He said even though he was innocent, he was willing to agree to a plea deal just to get out of jail sooner.
“I would have pled to a basic domestic charge if I could have gotten the standard, which is 30 to 45 days,” Black said.
“I didn’t do this, but I would have pled just to serve the 30 to 45 days and get out.”
While in jail, Black said he read a lot of books and exercised. He said he worked in the kitchen and in the laundry area.
“I just sort of accepted my fate and that I was going to fight this at trial, and the time went by and I got to trial and I won — that was my objective,” Black said.
He said his father was very supportive and eventually found him a lawyer who was able to help him successfully fight the charges. His dad is no stranger to the justice system. Conrad Black spent 42 months in jail in the United States after being found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice.
“He went through his ordeal he came out he’s doing really well now and I plan on being the same,” Jonathan said.
He said he lost two jobs after being charged with the domestic assault and is now working with a friend to put quick service restaurants in Walmart stores.
Black said he and White remain committed to one another and credited her with helping him clear his name.
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