Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon charged with rape
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 10:17AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2018 7:10PM EST
Gilbert Rozon, the founder of Just For Laughs, has been charged with rape and indecent assault.
Quebec's Crown Prosecutor's office said the alleged crime took place in 1979 and so Rozon is facing charges based on the criminal code at that time.
That also means the name of the victim cannot be revealed.
The DPCP has, in recent days, informed 13 other people who made accusations against Rozon that it would not be filing charges based on their complaints, and the office explained its decision to those people.
The Crown said that while it does believe the women who have made complaints, it is in many cases extremely difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred.
Justice Minister Sonia Lebel said the Crown office is not finished with the files.
"It's a judgment on the fact are we able to pursue this in a criminal court, so this is the only decision the DPCP has to take and I'm very confident that they took this matter very seriously," said Lebel.
"It's a very specific decision in a specific context -- that is the capacity to file criminal charges," she said. She added that she does not want the news to discourage others from reporting abuse allegations.
"The worst thing is silence," she said.
In its statement, the prosecution service noted that the burden of proof in criminal cases is very demanding.
"As a result, it occurs that the prosecutor, even though he believes the victim, comes to the conclusion that the evidence in the file does not allow a demonstration beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the facts fall under sexual harassment, civil law or sexual misconduct," the statement says.
Rozon, 64, said by email that he learned of the charges Wednesday morning and noted that the accusation goes back nearly 40 years. "I will continue to defend myself before the justice system, and I reserve all comment for that authority," he said.
One of the women who filed a complaint with police, Martine Roy, said she was frustrated and ashamed when she learned Monday that there would be no charges in her case.
"The shame of not being believed," said Roy, the sister of Rozon's ex-wife. "You feel like you were not taken seriously."
Civil cases continue
Several civil cases have also been filed against Rozon for sexual harassment, and the Crown points out that the burden of proof in civil cases is not the same as in criminal trials.
In May a Quebec judge authorized a class-action lawsuit against Rozon for alleged harassment and sexual assault of several women.
The group which calls itself "The Courageous Ones" is seeking $10 million in punitive damages for the actions the alleged victims say took place over several decades, with the most recent being in 2016.
Among the complainants are well-known Quebec TV producer Julie Snyder, and entertainment personalities including Penelope McQuade and Salome Corbo.
The allegations first arose in the fall of 2017.
Last year Rozon, who founded the Just For Laughs festival and TV enterprise, sold his shares in the company after the allegations became public.
Those shares have since been acquired by Bell (CTV News' parent company), Evenko, CH group, and Howie Mandel.
- With files from The Canadian Press