The Plight of Tony Rosato

I was appalled to learn that former Saturday Night Live and Second City alumnus Tony Rosato has been sitting in a Kingston area jail for two years, awaiting trial.

Tony Rosato is a Canadian comedian and actor who rose to prominence during a brief stint on Saturday Night Live. I won’t go into his biography as an actor as it his current situation which is of importance.

According to his friends and supporters, as well as the prison psychologist (who — rather unprofessionally, in my estimation — referred to him as “certifiable”) Mr. Rosato suffers from a mental illness called Capgras Syndrome* which is characterized by the belief that people, usually loved ones, a spouse or child, have been replaced by doubles.

In 2005, Mr. Rosato was charged with “criminal harassment” of his wife and daughter. Friends say that, previous to the events leading up to his arrest and incarceration, Mr. Rosato’s mental heath began to deteriorate. Their concerns led them to try and intervene and assist him in getting help. Eventually, in January 2005, his wife Leah “[fled] their Broadview Ave. apartment with their daughter”, moving to her home town of Kingston..

Mr. Rosato at this point began calling the Kingston police to report that his wife and daughter had been replaced by doubles. In May 2005, Kingston police arrested Mr. Rosato on charges of “public mischief and harassment”. These charges were eventually dropped but he was then charged with criminal harassment of his wife.

Since that point, Mr. Rosato has been sitting in the Kingston-area jail awaiting trial.

This week, a scheduled bail review was delayed until June, further delaying Mr. Rosato’s possible release into some sort of mental health facility.

According to his lawyer and supporters, under normal circumstances, someone charged with the same crime as Mr. Rosato would receive a sentence of one day in jail and two years probation.

Unfortunately, for someone suffering from a mental illness, the criminal justice system manages their cases quite differently, usually subjecting them to delays and conditions which prevent them not just from release in the normal time frame, but release into some sort of appropriate care.

In Mr. Rosato’s case, despite his own wife’s hopes that he get the psychiatric care he obviously needs, he has languished in custody for two years and now been subjected to yet another delay.

It is appalling that anyone, whatever their mental state should languish for two years without benefit of trial. For someone so obviously in need of psychiatric assistance, this is inhumane.

* “Named for its discoverer, French psychiatrist Jean Marie Joseph Capgras, the syndrome is characterized by the delusion that a person or people have been replaced by doubles or impostors. The rare condition is most commonly associated with schizophrenia, but according to Dr. Graham Glancy, a forensic psychiatrist with Metro West Detention Centre and Maplehurst Correctional Complex, it can also be caused by metabolic diseases, delirium, brain injury or drugs such as cocaine.” Toronto Star

I attended Lisgar Collegiate at the same time as Tony. I have followed his career with interest. I have written to the Premier of Ontario asking that he act. Whether it does any good or not, I don’t know. Hopefully, the public and media interest in the case will cause some action on the part of the Attorney General to speed up the bail-review and a release-date for him.


  1. Tarika said,

    July 27, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Well….he should be out by now if he was given 3 years in a psych centre.

  2. Mudhooks said,

    August 4, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for that. Hopefully, it will have a result that can get him out of jail and some sort of psychiatric help.

  3. Anonymous said,

    August 4, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Tony Rosato’s trial starts on August 7, 2007 in Kingston, Ontario.

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