Montreal impresario avoids jail time for sex assault

The Quebec man who brought the Just for Laughs comedy festival to Montreal has been given an unconditional discharge even though he pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

Last year in court, Gilbert Rozon admitted he fondled a 19-year-old woman at a party. He was handed a $1,100 fine and given a year's probation. Rozon appealed the sentence. Finally, on Friday, he was given an unconditional discharge.

In Friday's decision, the presiding judge said Rozon, whose comedy festival pulls in thousands of tourists and provides hundreds of jobs, should not be punished.

According to the judge, a criminal record for sexual assault might bar Rozon from entering the U.S., which would affect Rozon's businesses -- and therefore Montreal's economy.

Women's groups have expressed outrage at the decision, saying it trivializes sexual assault. The groups want Quebec's justice minister to force Crown prosecutors to appeal the sentence.

The judge says he thinks Rozon has suffered enough because of th negative publicity the case has generated.