MONTREAL, QUEBEC (CelebrityAccess) — A court in Quebec has paved the way for a class action suit over alleged sexual misconduct against Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon.
According to a report by the CBC, the suit was brought against Rozon by a group of 20 women, who claim they were sexually harassed or assaulted by Rozon.
The primary complainant in the suit, actress Patricia Tuslane, claims that Rozon sexually assaulted her in Montreal in 1994, after giving her a ride home. Tuslane alleges that after the ride, Rozon forced his way into her apartment and sexually assaulted her.
She claims she was traumatized by the alleged attack, but did not find the courage to come forward about the incident until the #MeToo movement brought similar allegations to light against numerous other high profile figures in the industry, the CBC reported.
The other complainants who are part of the group of 20 women are unknown.
In his decision to allow the class action suit to proceed, Justice Donald Bisson noted that such collective actions had been an effective tool in similar cases.
“If the plaintiff wasn’t authorized to file the present class action, it is highly likely that a number of victims would be deprived of their ability to exercise their rights,” he wrote in his decision, per the CBC.
Rozon has denied the allegations leveled against him and maintained that “the fact of being charming while using his power was not in itself a fault.”
Rozon’s attorneys also claimed that Tuslane failed to provide material evidence to support her allegations. However, Justice Bisson rejected that, noting that it was unrealistic to expect physical proof of an assault more than 20 years after it was alleged to have occurred, the CBC said.
The 20 women in the suit are seeking up to $400,000 in moral damages for each individual complainant, as well as a total of $10 million for the group in punitive damages.
Rozon stepped down from Just For Laughs last October after the news of the allegations against him broke. Just for Laughs was acquired in March by a consortium that was led by comedian and actor Howie Mandell, with financial backing from ICM Partners.