Just For Laughs founder charged

Calgary Herald - - CANADA -

MON­TREAL • Just For Laughs founder Gil­bert Ro­zon has been charged with rape and in­de­cent as­sault.

The charges, an­nounced Wednes­day, stem from al­le­ga­tions of a sin­gle fe­male com­plainant dat­ing back to 1979. The charges laid cor­re­spond to the word­ing in the Crim­i­nal Code at the time of the al­leged as­sault.

Pros­e­cu­tors said al­le­ga­tions from 13 other women will not re­sult in charges.

In Que­bec City, Jus­tice Min­is­ter So­nia LeBel said the women should not in­ter­pret the de­ci­sion as “a value judg­ment” on their sto­ries.

“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.”

In its state­ment, the pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice noted that the bur­den of proof in crim­i­nal cases is 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

IT’S A VERY SPE­CIFIC DE­CI­SION IN A SPE­CIFIC CON­TEXT — THAT IS THE CA­PAC­ITY TO FILE CRIM­I­NAL CHARGES.

the facts fall un­der sex­ual ha­rass­ment, civil law or sex­ual mis­con­duct,” the state­ment says.

Ro­zon is also fac­ing a $10-mil­lion class-ac­tion law­suit al­leg­ing that he abused at least 20 women be­tween 1982 and 2016. Last Au­gust, the Que­bec Court of Ap­peal al­lowed Ro­zon to ap­peal the de­ci­sion au­tho­riz­ing the law­suit. The ap­peal has not yet been heard.

Ro­zon, 64, stepped down as pres­i­dent of Just For Laughs last year, and an in­vestor group bought the com­pany in the spring. He was charged by sum­mons and is sched­uled to ap­pear in court Jan. 22 in Mon­treal.

Robert Ku­gler, the lawyer head­ing the class ac­tion suit, said the 13 plain­tiffs who saw their com­plaints not pros­e­cuted by the Crown should not be dis­cour­aged.

“It does not close all av­enues of jus­tice and the civil case con­tin­ues to pro­ceed notwith­stand­ing a de­ci­sion by the Crown not to go ahead with a crim­i­nal case.”

Gil­bert Ro­zon

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