Jewish Journal

Canadian entertainment leader resigns in face of sexual assault allegations

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Gilbert Rozon, a household name in Canada through his work in the field of entertainment, is stepping down from his programs after facing several accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

Rozon was the founding president of the Just For Laughs comedy festival and a co-host of the France’s Got Talent TV show until nine women accused him of sexual assault and harassment in a span of over 30 years. Rozon has since resigned from the comedy festival. France’s Got Talent has been suspended, although M6, the channel that runs the show, announced that the show would eventually be back on the air.

In a statement on Facebook, Rozon wrote, “Shaken by the allegations against me, I want to dedicate all my time to review the matter. To all those I may have offended in the course of my life, I’m sincerely sorry.”

One of the women that came forward, actress Salomé Corbo, claimed that Rozon sexually assaulted her at a party when she was only 14 years of age. Corbo alleges that Rozon used his finger to penetrate her, prompting her to loudly exclaim that she was only 14.

“I spoke loudly and hoped that witnesses around me would react, but nobody reacted,” Corbo told the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir. “Gilbert let me go and I left.”

Another one of the women, Penelope McQuade, claimed that Rozon made a move on her in the bathroom during one of the Just For Laughs festivals and she had to beg nonstop for a minute until Rozon ceased his behavior.

Photographer Lyne Charlebois is alleging that Rozon brought her back to his place to review her portfolio, where he proceeded to jump “on me and pulled down my pants.”

“I was afraid I was going to die,” said Charlebois. “I let him do his thing, waited until he finished, and left.”

Charlebois added that the incident caused “tremendous damage to me.”

Rozon had previously pled guilty to sexual harassment in 1998, although he only received a slap on the wrist because the judge thought that a criminal record would prevent Rozon from traveling internationally and thus harm Montreal’s economy.

In 2011, Rozon said in an interview, “I looked at politicians here and abroad, like Bill Clinton, and I asked myself, ‘Does power go with the obligation to seduce and conquer?’”

The accusations against Rozon come at a time when Harvey Weinstein is facing a wave of sexual harassment and rape allegations in the United States. It appears that the #MeToo movement has reached Canada as well.