LONGUEUIL, QUE.—A 90-year-old former Quebec actor and television show host has been found guilty on two counts of indecent assault on a minor dating back to the mid-1970s.
Quebec court Judge Marc Bisson said Wednesday he believed the victim’s version of events in the case against Edgar Fruitier. The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was 15 at the time of the first assault in 1974 and said he considered Fruitier like a big brother.
“Very glad it’s over, I’ve been waiting for this for 46 years,” the victim told reporters following the ruling, saying it was a huge weight off his shoulders. “He never apologized. I think (if he had) apologized 46 years ago we wouldn’t be here today. And if he had not tried again two more times, we would not be here.”
Fruitier was accompanied at the courthouse by someone helping the former actor walk. Over the decades, Fruitier played numerous roles on radio, television and in theatre and was named to National Order of Quebec in 2008. Fruitier was also known as the voice of Montgomery Burns in the French-language version of The Simpsons.
The assault in 1974 took place in Quebec’s Eastern Townships at a chalet belonging to Fruitier, then 44, who grabbed the victim from behind, put his hands on his private parts and tried to remove his pants.
Fruitier committed similar acts against the victim two more times at the former TV star’s home in Brossard, Que., in 1976.
The victim didn’t see Fruitier again and filed a police complaint in 2018, 42 years after the 1976 incident. Fruitier’s trial in June lasted only an hour, during which transcription of testimony by the complainant was filed.
He did not take the stand but his lawyer, Robert Polnicky, maintained his client never had sexual intentions towards the complainant. While recognizing some of the acts, Polnicky maintained they constituted an assault and not indecent assault.
Prosecutor Erin Kavanagh said Wednesday that argument didn’t hold. The indecent assault charge, which is applicable for acts committed in the 1970s, no longer exists in the Criminal Code.
“When we touch someone’s genitals, for us, it was an indecent assault, it was an assault committed in circumstances where there is an indecency,” Kavanagh said. “Today, we would call it a sexual assault.”
Kavanagh said the ruling sends a clear message to victims.
“It is important for the victims to report to the police, to do as the gentleman did in this case,” Kavanagh said. “We can see the result today, a very positive result for the prosecution.”
Sentencing arguments will take place Oct. 9.
Get more of what matters in your inbox
Start your morning with everything you need to know, and nothing you don’t. Sign up for First Up, the Star’s new daily email newsletter.
Sign Up Now