Quebec’s criminal prosecution office announced Wednesday morning it is laying charges against Gilbert Rozon, the founder of the Just for Laughs Festival.
Rozon was charged with indecent assault and rape, the Directeur des Poursuites Criminelles et Pénales (DPCP) announced. The alleged incidents involve one victim and date back to 1979.
The charges laid correspond to the wording in the Criminal Code at the time of the alleged assault. Rape no longer exists as a criminal charge. It has been replaced by the the term sexual assault.
Montreal police had filed 14 requests to launch criminal proceedings against Rozon, but after reviewing and analyzing all of the evidence, the DPCP said charges would only be made in connection with one of the files.
In a news release, the DPCP says the 13 other complainants were informed why no charges were laid.
The DPCP said in a statement that sometimes charges aren’t laid, not because the victim is not believed, but because the Crown doesn’t believe it can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
“The prosecution is looking for elements that allow it to conclude that a criminal act has been committed and determine whether the prosecutor can reasonably prove it,” the statement reads.
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.”
Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel said even though most of the complaints against Rozon did not result in charges, she hopes it won’t deter victims of sexual assault from reaching out to police.
“I don’t want that to discourage them to speak out; it’s very important to speak out,” she said.
“It’s not a judgment of what happened to them. It’s very important for the evolution of the mentality in the society that we don’t keep silent on those matters.”
Rozon is also facing a $10-million class-action lawsuit alleging that he abused at least 20 women between 1982 and 2016. He stepped down as president of Just For Laughs last year.
Rozon’s next court appearance is scheduled for January 22.
— With Files From The Canadian Press
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