Former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been found guilty of four counts of sexual assault, a court in Toronto has said.
Nygard, 82, was on trial in the Ontario Superior Court for five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement, charges linked to incidents between 1988 and 2005. The charges involved four women and a 16-year-old girl.
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The jury handed down the verdict on Sunday, the fifth day of deliberations following a six-week trial. Nygard was acquitted on one count of sexually assaulting one of the women who testified at the trial.
The trial addressed the first in a series of charges he faces for sex crimes against multiple women over several decades in Canada and the United States.
“I know it’s been a long and arduous case for you,” Justice Robert Goldstein told the jury.
Nygard’s lawyer Brian Greenspan did not rule out the possibility of appealing the verdict. During the closing arguments, Greenspan said the case was built on “contradictions and innuendo” as he panned the prosecution’s portrayal of his client.
“To describe Peter Nygard as an evil predator, a Jekyll and Hyde personality who, through wealth and power, lured women to his den of iniquity and forced women to comply with his sexual demands… is neither fair nor accurate,” he said.
Prosecutor Ana Serban, on the other hand, said Nygard on the stand was evasive and inconsistent, and that his memory was unreliable and selective.
Serban pointed to “remarkably similar accounts” of his five accusers, independent of each other, about how they met Nygard, were invited to his office building and “how he sexually assaulted them in his private bedroom suite”.
“The similarities defy coincidence,” she said. “It’s a pattern of behaviour.”
Testifying in his own defence, Nygard did not recall meeting or knowing four of his accusers and insisted he never raped any of the five.
“The type of allegations that were said and were described is the type of conduct that I know that I have never done, I never would do,” he told the court, even while admitting that his memory had become “very fuzzy” with age.
He will return to court on November 21 for sentencing.
Nygard, who in 1967 founded the firm that was to become Nygard International, has been held in detention since his arrest in 2020.
He must now face similar charges in Quebec and Manitoba. as well as extradition to the US where he has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, racketeering and trafficking.
Born in Finland, Nygard grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.