The 82-year-old founder of one of Canada’s largest clothing brands has been convicted on charges related to incidents between 1988 and 2005.
A Toronto court said former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been found guilty of four counts of sexual assault.
Nygard, 82, was on trial in Ontario Superior Court on five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. The charges related to incidents between 1988 and 2005. The charges involved four women and a 16-year-old girl.
The jury announced the verdict on Sunday, the fifth day of deliberations after a six-week trial. Nygard was acquitted in one case of sexually abusing one of the women who testified at the trial.
The trial dealt with the first of a series of charges against him for sex crimes against multiple women over several decades in Canada and the United States.
“I know this has been a long and difficult case for you,” Judge Robert Goldstein told the jury.
Nygard’s attorney, Brian Greenspan, did not rule out the possibility of appealing the verdict. During closing arguments, Greenspan said the case was built on “contradictions and innuendos” as he examined prosecutors’ portrayal of his client.
“Describing Peter Nygard as an evil predator, a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality who used wealth and power to lure women into his pit of sin and force women to comply with his sexual demands … is neither fair nor accurate,” he said.
A sign depicting Peter Nygard outside his headquarters in Times Square [File: John Minchillo/AP]
Prosecutor Ana Serban, however, said Nygard was evasive and inconsistent on the witness stand and that his memory was unreliable and selective.
Serban pointed to “remarkably similar accounts” from his five independent accusers about how they met Nygard, was invited to his office building and “how he sexually abused them in his private bedroom.”
“The similarities are beyond coincidence,” she said. “It’s a pattern of behavior.”
Testifying in his own defense, Nygard did not recall meeting or knowing four of his accusers and insisted that he had never raped any of the five.
“The type of allegations that have been made and described is the type of behavior I know I have never done and never would do,” he told the court, but admitted his memory was fading with age became “very blurry”.
He will return to court on November 21 for the sentencing.
Nygard, who founded the company that would later become Nygard International in 1967, has been in custody since his arrest in 2020.
He now faces similar charges in Quebec and Manitoba. and extradition to the United States, where he is accused of sexual assault on dozens of women and girls, extortion and human trafficking.
Nygard was born in Finland, grew up in Manitoba, eventually ran his eponymous clothing company and became one of Canada’s richest people.
Source : www.aljazeera.com