Just For Laughs founder charged
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.”