Crown's turn to argue in Just for Laughs founder's rape trial


MONTREAL -- It is the Crown prosecutor's turn to plead Thursday afternoon, with one objective: to convict Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon for rape and indecent assault of a woman.

The defence presented its argument on Nov. 6. Rozon's lawyer Isabel Schurman set about attacking the complainant's testimony, which she described as a story strewn with "memory gaps" and filled with contradictions and improbabilities.

Both charges were laid for actions that date back to 1980.

e ex-comedy mogul was 25 years old at the time, five years older than the complainant - whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

The accused, who is now 66, denies having committed the crimes.

The complainant recounted during the trial how a romantic date with the accused unfolded 40 years ago.

After an evening in a nightclub in the Laurentians, Rozon was driving her home but stopped on the way at his secretary's house to pick up documents.

Inside, the woman said he threw himself on her to kiss her, putting a hand on her cleavage, then attempting to remove her panties. She struggled and pushed him back to stop, she testified, saying that she had no other options for getting home, and judging that he understood her refusal, she spent the night there, alone, in a room.

In the early hours of the morning, she woke up because Rozon was on top of her, determined to have sex.

The accused delivered another version: he maintains that he invited the young woman to have a nightcap in a house rented by one of his employees, and to which he had access. After stroking and kissing her, he put his hand under her skirt, but claims to have stopped everything when she stiffened and said "no". Annoyed, he went to bed and woke up to see the complainant straddling him, "making love".

The Crown has a heavy burden of proof: it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crimes were committed.

After attacking the complainant's testimony, Schurman said that if there is any doubt in the judge's mind, her client must be acquitted.

"It would be dangerous to base a criminal conviction on this testimony, the reliability of which is questionable, tainted by a desire in the wake of the #MeToo movement, to make the accused pay and to force him to account," she said.

After Crown attorney Bruno Menard's argument, Rozon's fate will be in the hands of Quebec judge Melanie Hebert. She will likely take the matter under advisement before rendering her verdict.

Activists will lead a "street class on consent" demonstration in front of the Montreal courthouse Thursday at noon before the arguments begin.


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