October 21st, 2020

Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon’s rape trial opens in Montreal


By Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press on October 13, 2020.

Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon walks the hall of the courthouse as he arrives for the beginning of his sexual assault trial in Montreal on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL – A woman told Gilbert Rozon’s sex assault trial Tuesday that the entertainment mogul raped her 40 years ago in a ski-resort town north of Montreal.

Decades later, she said she’s still angry about the incident.

Rozon, 65, is accused of rape and indecent assault for acts allegedly committed in 1980. His trial opened Tuesday.

He was charged in December 2018 with offences that allegedly took place when he was 25 years old in St-Sauveur, Que.

The founder of the Just for Laughs comedy festival did not comment as he arrived at the Montreal courthouse Tuesday morning surrounded by several supporters.

Several woman stood outside the courtroom in protest, donning masks bearing the hashtag #MeToo, in reference to the international movement to denounce sexual assault.

Tuesday’s testimony began when Crown prosecutor Bruno Menard asked the complainant to identity her rapist. She pointed to Rozon.

The woman told the court she met him in 1980 when he came to the radio station where she worked, to record publicity spots.

She said he invited her out to a club after work. Afterward, while driving her home, he proposed “necking,” which she said she declined.

“We’re not 15 years old,” said the complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

Rozon said he needed to get some documents at his secretary’s house in St-Sauveur, the woman said. She said she recalls sitting on a couch to wait for him.

When he came back, he “threw himself on me to kiss me, putting his hand down my neckline,” she said.

The woman testified that she asked him to stop.

She said she fought with him and they fell to the ground. Rozon allegedly put his hand down her skirt and pulled at her underwear, she said.

Rozon said he was tired and refused to drive her home, she said. He showed her to a room where she could sleep.

The woman said the next thing she remembered was waking up with Rozon on top of her, “determined.”

She said she didn’t remember all the details of the alleged sexual assault that followed, but she said she recalls looking out a window to the right of the bed while it happened.

“It wasn’t consensual, it’s just too much, I don’t have the strength,” the woman said when asked to describe how she felt at the time. “‘It’s ‘hurry up, let’s be done.'”

The trial is expected to last four days and is taking place before a judge alone.

Rozon’s charges reflect those that were on the books at the time of the alleged offences – rape has been replaced by sexual assault in the current version of the Criminal Code.

The Crown prosecutor’s office evaluated 14 complaints against Rozon dating back to roughly the same period, but only moved forward with the charges currently being argued in court.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 13, 2020.

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