Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon walks the hall of the courthouse as he arrives for the beginning of his sexual assault trial in Montreal on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon walks the hall of the courthouse as he arrives for the beginning of his sexual assault trial in Montreal on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Woman testifies founder of Just for Laughs comedy festival raped her 40 years ago

Several woman stood outside the courtroom in protest

MONTREAL — A woman told Gilbert Rozon’s sex assault trial Tuesday that the founder of the Just for Laughs comedy festival raped her 40 years ago in a ski-resort town north of Montreal.

“It was not consensual,” the woman told the judge on the first day of the trial. “It was too much; I didn’t have the strength. It was ‘hurry up, let’s be done with it.’”

Rozon, 65, is accused of rape and indecent assault for acts allegedly committed in 1980 in St-Sauveur, Que. He told reporters Tuesday he will testify in his defence.

The fallen entertainment mogul did not comment as he arrived at the Montreal courthouse surrounded by several supporters.

Several woman stood outside the courtroom in protest, donning masks bearing the hashtag #MeToo, in reference to the international movement to denounce sexual assault.

The trial began when Crown prosecutor Bruno Menard asked the complainant to identity her rapist. She identified Rozon.

She took a deep breath before beginning her testimony. The woman told the court she was 20 years old and working at a radio station and attending junior college when she met Rozon. He came to the station to record publicity spots, she said.

The woman said Rozon invited her out to a club after work. She said she drank two glasses of wine.

Afterward, while driving to her parents’ home, Rozon proposed “necking,” she said. The woman told the court it was strange that he wanted to kiss in the car. “We’re not 15 years old,” she said she told him.

Rozon said he needed to get some documents at his secretary’s house in St-Sauveur, the woman said. She said she recalls sitting on a couch inside a home to wait for him.

When he came back, he “threw himself on me to kiss me, putting his hand down my neckline,” she said.

The woman testified that she asked him to stop. She said she fought with him and they fell to the ground. Rozon allegedly put his hand down her skirt and pulled at her underwear, she said.

Rozon said he was tired and refused to drive her home, she said. He showed her to a room where she could sleep.

She told the court she thought that since she had denied Rozon’s advances in the car and again in the home, “the matter was settled.”

When she woke up in the morning, she told Quebec court Judge Melanie Hebert that Rozon was “on top of me, determined.”

The woman said she doesn’t remember all the details of what happened next, or what was said.

“But I remember the window, which was to the right of the bed, because I was looking at it,” she said, while Rozon was allegedly raping her.

She said she went to police in 2017, following the publication of a series of allegations against Rozon. Of the 14 complaints made with police against him, prosecutors only brought her’s to trial.

She said she was at work when she read the articles detailing sex assault accusations against Rozon. When she returned home and saw her 18-year-old daughter, she said she took the decision to come forward.

“I want my daughter to live in world where these things don’t happen.” she told the judge.

Defence attorney Isabel Schurman asked if it was her who climbed onto the mezzanine of the home and got into bed with Rozon that night in 1980.

The woman’s body shook upon hearing that question. “No. Impossible. No. That didn’t happen,” the woman said.

Schurman’s cross-examination of the woman continues Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 13, 2020.

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