MONTREAL (CelebrityAccess) — Gilbert Rozon, founder of Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, has been acquitted after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 1980.
According to the Montreal Gazette, Rozon was acquitted even though the court found the testimony of the woman who accused him of rape to be credible.
In a 30-page decision, Judge Mélanie Héber said that the Crown is required to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and she said that in the case of Rozon, reasonable doubts had been raised.
“Even if the court does not believe the version of facts given by Mr. Rozon, it does raise a reasonable doubt. To be clear, that reasonable doubt derives from both intrinsic qualities of the testimony given by Mr. Rozon and the weaknesses previously identified as to the reliability of the testimony of (plaintiff Annick Charette). Considering the existence of reasonable doubt, Mr. Rozon should be acquitted of the accusations against him,” Hébert said, per the Gazette.
The alleged victim, Annick Charette, accused Rozon of sexual assault dating back to 1980 when she says she met Rozon while working at a radio station in the Laurentians. She claims she went to a discotheque with Rozon and later returned to his home where he attempted to initiate sexual activity with her. She claims she refused and went to sleep in a separate room in his home but awoke to find Rozon on top of her.
Rozon told a different version of events, claiming that it was he who awoke to find Charette on top of him and that she appeared to “be in a trance.”
Following the ruling, Charette read from a prepared statement, telling reporters:
“I think this Tuesday, Dec. 15, will be a dark one for all victims of sexual assault, because I am an example of the limits of the justice system when it comes to sexual violence. I profoundly deplore that the myths and the stereotypes of another era, that were often brought up by the defense, could be echoed in that courtroom. It is a negative message sent by the justice system to victims.”
Rozon resigned as Chairman of Just For Laughs in 2017 after he was accused of sexual assault. He later sold his stake in the festival to ICM Partners and Ontario comedian Howie Mandel.