Former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard, 82, was convicted on four counts of sexual assault on Sunday, concluding a six-week trial that highlighted disturbing allegations dating back several decades. However, the jury acquitted Nygard of one count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement.
A Trial Marked by Graphic Testimonies
During the trial, five complainants presented graphic and disturbing testimony against Nygard, with allegations ranging from the late 1980s to around 2005. They claimed they were sexually assaulted in Nygard’s private bedroom suite at his downtown Toronto office building. The jury reached its verdict on the fifth day of deliberations.
Nygard, who had pleaded not guilty to all charges, maintained his innocence throughout the trial. He testified in his defence, insisting he could not recall four of the five women and had no interaction with them. “What never occurred were the sexual assaults described by each of the complainants,” said Nygard’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan.
The Crown argued that the similarities in the independent testimonies of the complainants were too coincidental to be dismissed and demonstrated Nygard’s guilt. Crown Attorney Ana Serban highlighted the credibility of the complainants’ testimonies in contrast to Nygard’s, which she described as riddled with inconsistencies.
Defence lawyer Brian Greenspan, however, pointed out the “significant aspect” of similar fact evidence in the case, suggesting it could dictate the outcome. “Whether or not the issue of similar fact in this case is such that an appeal is warranted,” Greenspan said, indicating the possibility of an appeal.
Other Charges and Lawsuits
Nygard also faces additional legal challenges, including another count of sexual assault and forcible confinement in Manitoba, related to an alleged 1993 incident, and similar charges in Quebec for incidents purportedly occurring between 1997 and 1998.
Furthermore, Nygard is embroiled in a U.S. class-action lawsuit involving 57 women, with allegations dating as far back as 1977. He is also fighting extradition to the U.S., where he faces charges, including sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion.
The Verdict’s Impact
The verdict has resonated through the fashion industry and beyond, highlighting issues of wealth, power, and sexual misconduct. The trial’s outcome marks a significant moment in the ongoing discussion about sexual assault and the accountability of powerful figures.
As the legal proceedings continue, Nygard’s future remains uncertain, with potential appeals and additional trials looming.