If convicted on the sexual assault charges, Ghomeshi faces a maximum of 18 months in prison.

"The evidence of each complainant suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behavior, but was tainted by outright deception", Horkins said in his decision.

Protected from a crush of media by court security, Jian Ghomeshi's sister Jila read a statement from a piece of paper, saying they were "relieved but not surprised" by the court's decision.

- Comments have been turned off as Ghomeshi is set to go before the courts again in June.

Dozens of women gathered outside the courthouse on Thursday to protest the verdict, with some chanting, "Ghomeshi guilty". He was interrupted by a topless protester who charged into the media scrum with a message painted on her chest.

The woman told Ghomeshi's trial that while they were kissing in a park in 2003, he suddenly bit her shoulder and started squeezing her neck with his hands. The alleged incidents happened years ago, and prosecutors had no physical evidence or first-hand witnesses to bring forward in the sensational eight-day trial in Toronto. She was handcuffed by police and led into the back of a police cruiser.

While Horkins said that "spontaneous explanation" could be true, it was not consistent with her previous stance that she wanted nothing to do with him. "Each complainant demonstrated, to some degree, a willingness to ignore their oath to tell the truth on more than one occasion", he continued.

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"Whenever these large systems that we have put our faith in disappoint us, we have a period of mourning and feeling discouraged and licking our wounds", she said.

Legal experts and women's groups say the verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi sex assault trial shines a spotlight on everything that's wrong with the system created to find justice in such cases. She believes the evidence showed a disturbing pattern in Ghomeshi's behaviour. He was troubled that all three women had relationships with Ghomeshi that ended badly, that they told their stories to reporters before law enforcement and that they were aware of Ghomeshi's celebrity status.

Weeks later, the actress sent Ghomeshi a lengthy hand-written letter where she said she was, "sad we didn't spend the night together" and ends the letter by saying "I love your hands". DeCoutere, who agreed to be publicly named, testified that Ghomeshi had pushed her against a wall and slapped her several times on one occasion, and choked her almost to unconsciousness in a separate incident.

"Police tackled the woman to the ground and took her back inside the courthouse as she struggled and kicked the door".

The third and final complainant admitted to deliberately withholding information from police.

All he had to go on, not unusual in sexual-assault cases, was the complainants' credibility, which Horkins denounced without mincing words.

The fact that the accused weren't fully forthcoming about what happened after their interactions with Ghomeshi may have worked against them. "And so to hear that the judge believed that you actively on goal kept things a secret, or kept it out of court, gotta be not very easy to hear".