|KINGSTON — A one-time fixture of Canadian
television who believes his loved ones have been replaced by
imposters entered an Ontario courtroom in shackles and
handcuffs Tuesday to face a charge of criminal harassment.
Tony Rosato, 53, best known for brief comedic turns on
“SCTV” and “Saturday Night Live,” complained about the two
years he has already spent behind bars as he was ushered
into a courtroom in Kingston.
“I’m very concerned about the time I spent here without
bail,” Rosato said, a folder adorned with the Star of David
tucked under one arm. “I felt that bail should have been
given to me a long time ago, and I felt my human rights were
Daniel Brodsky, Rosato’s lawyer, said his client was
arrested after repeatedly complaining to police that his
wife and daughter had vanished and been replaced by
The bizarre delusion is a central symptom of a mental
condition known as Capgras’s syndrome, with which Brodsky
says Rosato has been diagnosed.
The trial, which was supposed to get underway in earnest
Tuesday, took an early dramatic turn when Brodsky argued
that the proceedings should be taking place in Toronto,
where the alleged harassment took place.
As Brodsky spoke with Superior Court Justice Gordon
Thomson, Rosato silently raised his right arm as a student
would in a classroom, his index and middle fingers slightly
hooked, and tried to get his lawyer’s attention.
Brodsky went over to the prisoner’s box where the two had
a discussion within earshot of several reporters sitting in
the front row before Thomson abruptly put an end to the
“We’re not going to have chit-chat with the press sitting
three feet away,” Thomson said.
“I was just trying to understand the charges, Your
Honour,” Rosato replied.
Much of the first day of the trial was characterized by
Thomson’s evident frustration at several procedural delays.
He repeated urged both Brodsky and assistant Crown attorney
Priscilla Christie to “move along” as they each raised a
number of procedural issues.
The day was cut short shortly after lunch when Brodsky
said Christie had failed to provide him with a number of
transcripts from earlier court appearances, without which he
claimed he could not properly defend his client.
Thomson called the absent transcripts an “inordinate
delay,” and demanded to have them first thing Wednesday.
Rosato, born in Naples, Italy, joined “SCTV” in its final
season in 1980, his best-known character a tippling TV chef
named Marcello Sebastiano. He appeared on “Saturday Night
Live” for one season in 1981, then in 1985 began a four-year
stint on the popular Canadian police drama “Night Heat.”
Both in court and outside, Brodsky complained that
Christie had been stonewalling him in the lead-up to the
trial by not replying to his e-mails and voice mail
At one point, a visibly frustrated Thompson urged the
lawyers to “open the lines of communication” and chastised
them for delaying the proceedings.
“I’ve got some news for you,” he said. “This trial is
going to go ahead, and it’s going to go ahead today.”
Throughout the apparent chaos of the trial’s first day,
Rosato sat calmly in the prisoner’s box, wearing a black
suit jacket and pants and a greyish-blue golf shirt.
As police led the actor from the grey-bricked courthouse
to a waiting cruiser, he took pains to point out that his
estranged wife, Leah, wasn’t responsible for the charge
“My wife and I never had any kind of disagreement
whatsoever our entire lives,” said Rosato, who’s being held
at the Quinte Detention Centre in nearby Napanee. “I love my
wife so very, very much, and I haven’t seen her and I’m
worried sick about her.”