As Rozon allegations become public, police set up hotline for sexual crimes
Published Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:29PM EDT
Montreal police have set up a special hotline for those who would like to report sexual crimes.
The number is 514-280-2079.
The move comes in the wake of a report that nine women, among them prominent Quebec personalities such as Penelope McQuade and Lyne Charlebois, have accused Just for Laughs founder and president Gilbert Rozon of sexual misconduct.
The allegations date as far back as the 1980s.
Writer and director Charlebois told Radio 98.5 FM that Rozon pinned her to the ground soon after they met in 1982.
"I was so excited to have maybe my first photography contract and then the next thing... he jumps on me, lowers my underwear," said Charlebois. "I’n thinking, he just met my boyfriend. I just met him for the first time that morning. I froze. I was completely paralyzed. I was... I was scared for my life."
Quebec actor Salome Corbo told 98.5FM she met a drunk Rozon at an afterparty for Just for Laughs when she was just 14.
“He put his hands in my dress,” she told the radio station. “I said, ‘Gilbert, I’m just 14 years old.’”
Another woman told Le Devoir that last year she awoke following an evening of drinking to find Rozon allegedly raping her, something Rozon later denied in an email exchange with the woman.
Police have not yet said if there is a criminal investigation underway into the alleged acts.
Rozon also served as commissioner of Celebrations for Montreal's 375th anniversary and the vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.
Mayor Denis Coderre was shocked when multiple women denounced Rozon as someone who had repeatedly committed sexual harassment and assault.
Rozon sent Coderre a text message Wednesday with his immediate resignation as commissioner of celebrations for Montreal's 375th anniversary. He was appointed to the position in 2012 by then-mayor Gerald Tremblay.
"Every time there's a situation like this I think that we have to be a feminist city," said Coderre, who said he was surprised about the allegations.
"I was shocked. You know, I salute the courage of all the women when I read Le Devoir or 98.5, Penelope McQuade and all those artists or women showed a lot of courage," said Coderre.
In 1999 Rozon pleaded guilty to assaulting a 19-year-old woman and was fined $1,100.
He was given a discharge and so did not receive a criminal record, which would have impeded his ability to travel. His lawyer said that would make it difficult for him to continue recruiting comedians to the Just For Laughs festival and so hurt Montreal's economy.
That outraged many at the time, including women's rights groups, since Rozon could have been sentenced to 18 months in jail.