Former TV and radio host Eric Salvail acquitted in sexual assault trial
MONTREAL -- Former radio and television host Eric Salvail was acquitted Friday afternoon on charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement and harassment of a one-time colleague at Radio-Canada.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Alexandre Dalmau rendered his verdict at the Montreal courthouse, saying the case came down to the credibility of the accused and the plaintiff.
He said the accusations were credible, but not beyond a reasonable doubt, as there were some inconsistencies.
Salvail, now 51, was accused of assaulting Donald Duguay in 1993.
The latter testified at the criminal trial that Salvail kidnapped and sexually assaulted him in a Radio-Canada bathroom, after several months of advances, sexual comments and inappropriate touching in the workplace.
Salvail chose to testify at his trial. He has denied outright all the allegations made against him, even calling Duguay's recounting of the episode of sexual assault and forcible confinement "wacky."
He has also argued on several occasions that he was no longer working at Radio-Canada when the acts for which he was accused were allegedly committed. The defence attacked Duguay's credibility.
Crown prosecutor Amelie Rivard used the same weapons in her argument, however, attacking Salvail's testimony. She called it "implausible and incoherent," even arguing that it should be rejected "in its entirety."
Salvail was arrested in January 2019 and his trial concluded in mid-November.
Justice Dalmau said that Duguay had left some details out of his original statement to police, and he was also convinced by arguments from the defence that Salvail wasn't employed by that particular department of Radio-Canada at the time and wouldn't have been in the building.
The judge said it's normal not to remember every detail from an event of 27 years ago, nor did he find the claims far-fetched, but there were too many inconsistencies for the court to convict Salvail.
Salvail's credibility came into question as well, said the judge, when he claimed he "wasn't the type of person" to do the kind of thing he was accused of, and that he had no memory of the complainant at all.
Three former colleagues came forward during the trial to say he had been sexually aggressive with them in the past and was, they said, that "type of person."
- With files from The Canadian Press