Former television host Éric Salvail on Monday avoided having to hear the testimony of three ex-colleagues during his trial on a charge of sexual assault and forcible confinement. Instead, their recorded audio statements to police were entered into evidence by the Crown.
Prosecutor Amélie Rivard had intended to hear testimony from the trio, telling the court that they, too, had been subjected to inappropriate touching, sexual comments and exhibitionism on the part of the accused.
The testimony was intended by the Crown to refute earlier statements to the court by Salvail that he was not the kind of person to have committed the acts alleged in the case.
The court on Monday accepted the audio statements into evidence and Salvail, who attended the proceeding via videoconference, waived his right to cross-examine the three witnesses.
Monday’s proceedings were the continuation of a trial that began in February.
Donald Duguay alleges that in October 1993 he was forcibly confined and sexually assaulted by Salvail in a bathroom in the Radio-Canada building in Montreal. He alleges further that the acts took place after months of advances, harassment, sexual comments and inappropriate touching on Salvail’s part and while in the workplace.
Duguay, who filed a complaint against Salvail in 2017 and has asked to be publicly identified, alleges also that the accused exposed his genitals to him.
In his testimony, Salvail has denied the entirety of Duguay’s accusations and described Duguay’s account of being forcibly confined and sexually assaulted as ridiculous. Salvail, 51, has told the court repeatedly he was not employed at Radio-Canada at the time of the alleged events.
Salvail’s version of events bothered one of the witnesses. “To see that he denied everything, that he never crossed the line, that bothered me a lot,” he says in the audio recording. The witnesses’ names are protected by a publication ban.
One witness testified that at the end of a work day, Salvail entered his office where he was alone, approached him from behind, put a hand in the witness’s pants and touched his testicles.
“It was intense,” he told investigators. The man pushed Salvail away and left the office. He said Salvail followed him in the corridor and dropped his pants to expose his penis.
Another witness said the first day he met Salvail, the sexual comments began, with statements like “I’m sure you have a nice penis” and “are you circumcised?” One day while dealing with a medical crisis, he testified Salvail grabbed him from behind and started rubbing against him.
“That was too much for me,” he said. “He crossed the line. It wasn’t in good humour.”
The third witness said Salvail grabbed his butt cheek and described sexual acts he wanted to do to him, including fellatio.
He said Salvail liked shocking and destabilizing people, which he said was useful in his work as a crowd host.
The Crown rested its case Monday. Final arguments are expected to begin Wednesday.