Peter Nygard, who once led a women’s fashion empire, was found guilty of four counts of sexual assault in a Canadian court on Sunday but was acquitted of a fifth count plus a charge of forcible confinement.
The jury handed down the verdict on the fifth day of deliberations following a six-week trial in Toronto.
Nygard, 82, had pleaded not guilty to all charges, which stemmed from allegations dating back from the 1980s to the mid-2000s.
Five women – whose identities are protected by a publication ban – had testified that they were invited to Nygard’s Toronto headquarters under pretexts ranging from tours to job interviews, with all encounters ending in a top-floor bedroom suite where four of them were sexually assaulted.
Multiple complainants told the jury similar stories of meeting Nygard on a plane, at an airport tarmac or at a nightclub and then receiving invitations to come to headquarters. All five women said their meetings or interactions with Nygard ended with sexual activity that they did not consent to.
One of the complainants testified that Nygard wouldn’t let her leave his private suite for some time, which led to the forcible confinement charge. Others also testified about feeling trapped in the suite, describing doors that had to be opened with a keypad code or the push of a button near the bed.
One woman testified that she was only 16 years old when she accompanied an older man she was dating at the time to Nygard’s headquarters, where she said Nygard sexually assaulted her and then another woman handed her an emergency contraceptive pill on her way out.
Nygard testified in his own defense at the trial and denied all five women’s allegations, saying he didn’t even recall meeting or interacting with four of them. He insisted he would never engage in the type of conduct he was accused of, and said no one could have been locked inside his private suite under any circumstances.
At the end of the trial, prosecutors argued that Nygard was evasive and unreliable in his testimony and that the similarities in all five women’s stories showed a pattern in his behavior.
The defense argued that the complainants crafted a “false narrative” about Nygard and suggested their sexual assault claims were motivated by a class-action lawsuit against Nygard in the United States.
Nygard is still facing criminal charges in three other jurisdictions.
He is facing charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement in separate cases in Quebec and Manitoba, related to allegations dating back to the 1990s. He is also facing charges in the U.S.
Nygard was first arrested in Winnipeg in 2020 under the Extradition Act after he was charged with nine counts in New York, including sex trafficking and racketeering charges.
The federal justice minister at the time had said Nygard would be extradited to the U.S. after the cases against him in Canada are resolved.
Nygard founded a fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967 that ultimately became Nygard International. The company produced women’s clothing under several brand names and had corporate facilities in both Canada and the U.S.
Nygard stepped down as chairman of the company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020. The company has since filed for bankruptcy and entered into receivership.