It is to ensure that judge Alexandre Dalmau “does not have a false image” of the personality of ex-host Eric Salvail that the Crown wishes to hear three more witnesses in re-evidence, argued Prosecutor Amélie Rivard on Monday.
The latter argued that in the first part of Mr. Salvail’s trial, in February and March, he “refuted the charges by suggesting that he was not the type of person to commit these offenses, because he is of good reputation, of good character. “
It was around this issue that the two parties found themselves in court on Monday: Did Eric Salvail put his personality – his character – at stake in his defense? Did he use what his personal morality would be to say that he did not commit the acts of which he is accused?
If so, the Crown believes it should call new witnesses – not to introduce new evidence, but to “counter the image Mr. Salvail may have left in court.”
Éric Salvail is facing three counts: harassment, sexual assault and forcible confinement, all of this allegedly between April and October 1993.
Justice Dalmau himself noted that through his testimony (examination and cross-examination), Eric Salvail wanted him to “take into consideration” the impossible nature of what he is accused of. “” I would not have done it, “said the judge, repeating a phrase spoken in February by Salvail. What else does it mean that he is not that kind of person ?, he asked himself. He wants me to infer that it is not possible, because he is not like that. “
The prosecutor argued that it was Mr. Salvail who put these elements of personality traits on the table. The question is important, since the Crown “is not authorized to present evidence of conduct unworthy of the accused in order to establish that the accused is more likely to have committed the alleged offense”, notes her in her request.
However, it can do so if the accused puts “his good reputation at stake in order to imply that he could not have committed the offense”. The Crown believes that this is what happened in the case of Mr. Salvail, and that is why it asked the judge Monday for leave to file re-evidence to rebut the former producer’s claims.
Rivard noted that “good reputation [de M. Salvail] is not a simple collateral fact, but rather a central point of its defense and an essential and determining question to settle the debate “.
In the present case, the counter-evidence consists of three witnesses who “have come forward, and who have no interest: they are not complainants,” said Amélie Rivard. The first refers to incidents that occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Mr. Salvail was a crowd organizer. He speaks of “repeated comments of a sexual nature about him”. Eric Salvail “could follow him in the elevator, try to put his tongue in his ear, rub his cock against him or feel his butt,” it is argued.
The second alleges that around 2002, Mr. Salvail touched his buttocks and then his testicles while he was in the office of a researcher. He later allegedly chased him down the hall and exhibited his genitals.
Finally, in 2003, a third witness alleged that Eric Salvail made several inappropriate sexual comments to him, in addition to having “rubbed” against him by touching his chest.
Salvail’s lawyer, Michel Massicotte, had a completely different view of the situation. “We absolutely do not share the idea that [la défense] of Mr. Salvail is one of good reputation ”.
Rather, he believed that “the central element” of it was “a kind of alibi: the impossibility that Mr. Salvail was present” during the incidents described by the complainant.
Mr. Massicotte argued that Prosecutor Rivard almost trapped Mr. Salvail, “who is not used to being in court”, questioning him on his character or reputation, and questioning him on a “line” ethics that he did not cross.
In his testimony in February, Mr. Salvail denied the various allegations made by the alleged victim, Donald Duguay, as a whole. He called his story of the assault “wacky”.
Salvail, however, recognized that he was the type of person who made comments of a sexual nature. But according to him, he always did it in a humorous context which would be intrinsic to the “liberal environment” in which he worked.
“We are in a liberal environment, where lots of things are said on one side or the other, which are always friendly, to make people laugh… There is a line between comments to have fun and be funny in front of everyone, and the line where we fall in what we’re talking about [dans ce procès] : harassment, assault, “he said. The prosecutor asked him if he considered he had already crossed the line: “For me, no.”
But beyond this debate on the defense of reputation, Michel Massicotte also believes that the three witnesses relate events which have nothing to do with the incidents recounted by Donald Duguay – and which are at the heart of this trial.
“I personally find that Mr. Salvail is being treated unfairly,” he said. “Because if [on accepte ces témoignages], we’re going to sue Eric Salvail’s morality over a ten-year period. “
The judge took the matter under advisement until September 4.