The founder and president of the Just for Laughs / Juste Pour Rire comedy festival, Gilbert Rozon, has resigned amid “serious allegations of sexual misconduct.”
Rozon, who was also the public face of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, made the announcement Wednesday night on his Facebook page.
“I am announcing that I am leaving immediately as President of the Just for Laughs Group, as Commissioner of Celebrations for the 375th Montreal and as Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal,” he said.
Multiple reports claim numerous women have come forward with claims Rozon sexually assaulted or harassed them.
Le Devoir is reporting that nine women, including some prominent Quebec personalities, have come forward.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre released a statement, saying “I have become aware of the serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Gilbert Rozon. I totally support all those women and men who decide to speak out about the assaults they have suffered. We must protect the victims.”
Coderre said there is “zero tolerance” and that “when there is an authority relationship, you have to protect people.”
“It is now up to the authorities to conduct independent investigations and meet with victims to clarify these allegations,” he said.
Montreal police would not confirm to CTV whether they had opened an investigation into the claims.
Police, however, did send out a tweet Wednesday night, saying, "If you are a victim of harassment/sexual assault, report it to your police service. We are listening," while police chief Philippe Pichet quoted the tweet, adding that he is "very sensitive to the current situation."
If you are a victim of harassment/sexual assault, report it to your police service. We are listening.https://t.co/zZVI4f1JyI— Police Montréal (@SPVM) October 19, 2017
In recent days, scores of women have come forward on social media, using the hashtag #metoo or #moiaussi to open up about their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault. The floodgates were opened after multiple women in Hollywood circles shared their troubling allegations against disgraced movie executive Harvey Weinstein.
Rozon responded the allegations against him by announcing he was stepping down.
“I am withdrawing out of respect for the employees and families who work for these organizations and all our partners,” he said, adding, “Shaken by the allegations concerning me, I would like to devote all my time to taking stock.”
Rozon concluded by saying, “To all those I may have offended in my life, I sincerely apologize.”
Mayoral candidate Valerie Plante weighed in on the matter, saying, "Today my thoughts are with those courageous people who decided to say it is enough."
“I hope that light will be shed on the allegations against Gilbert Rozon and that justice will follow its course,” she said.
Quebec comedian Guillaume Wagner stated in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he was no longer working for Just for Laughs “as long as an attacker is the boss.”
Wagner wrote about Rozon in the same post where he called out TV presenter Eric Salvail, who was suspended amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
“Years ago, my participation in Just for Laughs was almost half of my year's salary. Integrity has a price. But I will never pay as much as the victims,” he said in the post, referring to Rozon directly.
On Tuesday, an alleged victim of Rozon, Marlène Bolduc, detailed events on Twitter, claiming that the businessman made comments about her that she felt were inappropriate.