Peter Nygård, the former head of a prominent women’s fashion empire, was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in a Canadian court on Sunday, following a six-week trial in Toronto. The jury’s verdict came on the fifth day of deliberations, as Nygard, 82, faced charges related to allegations spanning from the 1980s to the mid-2000s.
While Nygard was acquitted of a fifth count and a charge of forcible confinement, the four counts of sexual assault stemmed from incidents where five women testified that they were invited to Nygard’s Toronto headquarters under various pretexts, ultimately leading to non-consensual sexual encounters.
The complainants, whose identities are protected by a publication ban, detailed similar stories of meeting Nygard in different settings, such as on a plane, at an airport tarmac, or in a nightclub. Subsequently, they received invitations to the fashion mogul’s headquarters, where encounters culminated in sexual activities they did not consent to.
Some of the women testified about feeling trapped in Nygard’s private suite, describing doors with keypad codes or buttons that heightened their sense of confinement. One complainant, who was 16 at the time, alleged that Nygard sexually assaulted her, while another woman handed her an emergency contraceptive pill on her way out.
Throughout the trial, Nygard maintained his innocence, denying all allegations and stating that he did not recall meeting or interacting with four of the women. He argued that he would never engage in such conduct and asserted that no one could have been locked inside his private suite.
Prosecutors contended that Nygard’s testimony was evasive and unreliable, emphasizing the similarities in the complainants’ stories as indicative of a pattern in his behaviour. The defence countered, alleging that the complainants crafted a “false narrative” and suggested that their claims were motivated by a class-action lawsuit against Nygard in the United States.
While Nygard is still facing criminal charges in three other jurisdictions, including Quebec and Manitoba, related to allegations dating back to the 1990s, he was first arrested in Winnipeg in 2020. The charges in the U.S. include sex trafficking and racketeering. Nygard stepped down as chairman of his fashion company in 2020 after law enforcement raids, and the company subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
The disgraced fashion mogul will be extradited to the U.S. once the Canadian cases are resolved, according to previous statements by the federal justice minister.
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