- The octogenarian was convicted Sunday after a six-week trial
- He faces many similar charges across Canada and in the US
- He was convicted on four counts of sexual assault and was acquitted on one count of forcible confinement and one of sexual assault
Fashion mogul Peter Nygard was found guilty by a Toronto jury of four counts of sexual assault.
The Canadian designer, 82, was convicted Sunday after a six-week trial.
Nygard reportedly appeared emotionless as the verdict was handed down after the jurors’ fifth day of deliberation. The octogenarian attacked five women in the private bedroom suite of his downtown Toronto office building.
He previously pleaded not guilty in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. He was acquitted of two of those counts.
He initially faced eight charges, but several were dropped as jury selection was set to begin.
Throughout the month-and-a-half trial, the jury heard graphic testimony from all five complainants, four whom said they were in their late 20s when they were assaulted, and one who said she was 16 when the alleged attack took place.
The span of the women’s testimony ranged from the late 1980s to around 2005. Each of the women ended up in Nygard’s private bedroom suite.
Some of the women testified there was a mirrored door leading into Nygard’s bedroom and it had no handle on the inside and that two of the doors leading to the outside of his bedroom needed to be unlocked and opened by pressing a button inside the room, or by punching a security code.
Two of the complainants told the court they felt trapped inside that room because they believed there was no way out.
One of the women told the court she repeatedly pleaded with Nygard to let her out of the room and that he eventually relented. It was that allegation which led to the forcible confinement charge.
The disgraced mogul testified in his own defense over the course of five days. He said he could not recall four of the five of the women, nor did he remember interacting with any of them.
He additionally claimed any of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him could not have happened because he would never engage in such behavior.
Nygard contradicted some of the complainants’ testimony, arguing there was a handle on the inside door of his private bedroom and denying a person could get locked or trapped inside.
Prosecutors closed their case by arguing that Nygard’s testimony was inconsistent, unreliable, lacked credibility and should be rejected.
In contrast, the prosecutor argued, the testimony of the five women was consistent, and the similarities of their stories defied coincidence, thereby proving Nygard’s guilt.
Nygard’s attorney, however, argued that it was the testimony of the five women that lacked credibility.
Brian Greenspan – Nygard’s lawyer – told the jury that they needed to carefully consider all the evidence and reflect on the ‘fatal flaw and lack of testimonial trustworthiness’ of the five women.
In addition to the trial that ended Sunday, Nygard is also facing a civil lawsuit in New York that is currently on hold – it involved 57 women and the allegations date back as far as 1977, some of whom claim they were assaulted when they were as young as 14 or 15.
He is fighting extradition to the US for the charges in New York.
He faces a slate of other charges across Canada stemming from other alleged acts of sexual misconduct and assault.
Nygard was born in Finland and raised in Canada and was the founder of Nygard International, which was at one time Canada’s largest women’s clothing manufacturer.
Before the mogul was arrested, his business employed 1,450 people and operated more than 150 stores in North America and more than 6,000 shops inside department stores.
In 2020, the company began to fall apart when ten unnamed female plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan accusing the elderly businessman of raping women and underage girls at his estate in the Bahamas.
The suit was then expanded to include 57 unnamed accusers.