Just For Laughs founder resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Screengrab via ChefPhileas1/YouTube (Fair Use)

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The founder of the Montreal-based comedy festival Just For Laughs has resigned in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.

On Wednesday Gilbert Rozon posted to Facebook to announce he’s vacating his position as chairman of the long-running comedy festival and vice president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, “out of respect for employees and families.”

He added that he is “shaken by the allegations,” which, according to French-language newspaper Le Devoirinclude a rickshaw driver who claims Rozon harassed her while she was working the festival last summer, a director who claims he sexually assaulted her in the ’80s, and two women who were underage when alleged misconduct took place. Nine women came forward with allegations.

In 1998, Rozon was found guilty of fondling a 19-year-old woman, but continued to be employed by Just For Laughs. He received a fine and a year of probation. According to the Toronto Star, Rozon was granted an unconditional discharge in 1999 after a judge ruled that the sexual assault charge “might prevent Rozon from traveling internationally, affect his business, and hamper Montreal’s economy.”

Déclaration officielle J’annonce que je quitte dès maintenant mes fonctions de Président du Groupe Juste pour rire, de…

Posted by Gilbert Rozon on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

His resignation arrived the same day comedian Megan Koester recounted attending Just For Laughs in 2015 as a reporter for Gawker and being reprimanded after asking red carpet guests about rumors of misconduct by Louis C.K., which have been circulating for a few years. The man who reprimanded her was Just For Laugh’s COO Bruce Hills, who told her that line of questioning wasn’t appropriate because C.K. was a “friend of the festival.”

We’ve reached out to Just For Laughs for comment.

H/T Vice

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