Quebec producer Éric Salvail put his career on indefinite hiatus Thursday, after apologizing and admitting that he has committed sexual misconduct against numerous employees at his production company and others he’s worked with.
While not charged with anything criminal, Salvail has been accused by eleven men and women of workplace harassment, including making persistent sexual propositions, touching them, and exposing his penis during work hours. A report on their allegations was published in Montreal’s La Presse.
One of the first accusers to go public is Marco Bernardini, a hairdresser and makeup artist who said he was harassed by Salvail 15 years ago. According to Bernardini, Salvail propositioned him almost immediately into their first meeting in 2003, which was supposed to be about employment potential. At a later date when they met to discuss Salvail’s look, Bernardini says the producer got undressed, put on a transparent G-string and positioned his penis to show it off to Berardini. In a third incident, Bernardini said he bent over to pick something up, and Salvail grabbed his crotch. At that point, Berardini decided not to have any further contact with Salvail.
In his apology posted to Facebook, Salvail admitted many more than 11 people have been hurt by his behavior. “It’s a brutal realization. For many years and in many situations and with many people – many more than those made public – my behaviour caused harm,” he wrote. “I offended you, I disturbed you, I hurt you, and I recognize it. I’m sorry. Sincerely.”
Salvail will no longer participate in the activities of his production company and has delegated all management responsibilities to his team, stating that he is concerned for those employed by his company and is acting to save their jobs.
Salvail’s resignation comes on the heels of the departure of Just For Laughs comedy festival head Gilbert Rozon, who was accused by numerous women of inappropriate behavior in an expose published by Le Devoir and Montreal radio station 98.5. The alleged incidents took place between 1982 and 2016 and involved seven women and two girls aged 14 and 15. They included actors, behind-the-scenes personnel, a summer student employee of the festival, the daughter of a comedian who was also a friend of Rozon, and prominent television host Pénélope McQuade. Rozon had been convicted in 1998 of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old female casino worker, but quickly rose back to power.
Rozon issued a statement late Wednesday saying he was withdrawing from his roles “to take stock” and out of respect for the workers in his enterprises and their families. “To all those I may have offended in the course of my life, I’m sincerely sorry,” he said.
Both Savail and Rozon’s falls from grace mimic that of Harvey Weinstein, who has faced disgrace at every turn including expulsion from the Motion Picture Academy and divorce proceedings from his wife since explosive sexual harassment allegations were published in a New York Times expose. The scandal surrounding Weinstein has led to a wave of other women and men coming forward with stories of sexual misconduct, often leading to the resignations or ousters of other high-placed executives, such as Lockhart Steele at Vox and Roy Price at Amazon.