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Canada: Fashion mogul Peter Nygard convicted of sex assault

November 12, 2023

Four women have accused the he Finnish-born Canadian fashion magnate of sexual assault, and one of forcible confinement in his private suite. He also faces racketeering and trafficking charges in the US.

Peter Nygard
The founder of the Nygard International clothing firm has been convicted of sexual assault and forcible confinement by a Toronto courtImage: Clinton H. Wallace/Photomundo International/ Photos Inc/Globe-ZUMA/picture alliance

Finnish-Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was found guilty on Sunday of four counts of sexual assault.

He was also handed a charge of forcible confinement following a seven-week trial in Toronto.

He will return to court on November 21 for sentencing.

The businessman 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 US.

Drawing of Peter Nygard testifying in Toronto court
Five women testified in proceedings against Peter Nygard, who has been convicted of sexual assault and forcible confinementImage: Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press/empics/picture alliance

What was Nygard accused of?

Five women testified that they were invited to Nygard's Toronto headquarters under pretexts including tours or job interviews. Four of the women said that they were sexually assaulted in the man's top-floor bedroom suite.

One of the women said that Nygard did not allow her to leave his private suite for some time, which led to the forcible confinement charge. Others also testified to feeling trapped in the suite, saying that there were doors that had to be opened with a keypad code or the push of a button near the bed.

One woman said 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. She testified that another woman handed her an emergency contraceptive pill as she was leaving.

Nygard denied the allegations, saying he did not recall meeting or interacting with four of the women who provided testimony.

Prosecutors argued that the fashion magnate was evasive and unreliable in his testimony and that similarities in the women's stories showed a pattern of behavior.

The defense argued that the complainants' claims were motivated by a class-action lawsuit against Nygard in the US. Nygard's lawyer Brian Greenspan said that the case of the prosecution was built on "contradictions and innuendo" and suggested the women were motivated by financial gain.

Nygard was also acquitted of one charge of sexual assault and one charge of forcible confinement.

Peter Nygard leaves court in police van after being found guilty
Peter Nygard still faces charges in Quebec and Manitoba, as well as in the United StatesImage: Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press/AP/picture alliance

Nygard still facing charges in Canada, US

Nygard still faces separate sexual assault and forcible confinement cases in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, as well as in New York.

He was charged with nine counts in New York in 2020. The federal justice minister at the time said that he would be extradited to the US after rulings were given in the cases against him in Canada.

In the US, he has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, racketeering and trafficking.

Nygard stepped down as the chairman of the company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.

The firm has since filed for bankruptcy and entered into receivership.

sdi/msh (AFP, AP)