November 13, 2023 –A Canadian jury has found the former fashion mogul Peter Nygard guilty of sexual assault after a six-week trial.
Prosecutors told a Toronto court that Nygard, 82, used his “status” to assault five women in a series of incidents from the late 1980s to 2005.
Nygard denied the charges, and his defence team accused the victims of “gold-digging” for financial gain.
He was found not guilty on a fifth count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement.
Nygard appeared to show no emotion as the verdict was handed down on the jurors’ fifth day of deliberations.
According to prosecutors, Nygard lured the women – aged 16 to 28 at the time – to a private luxury bedroom in his firm’s Toronto headquarters.
One prosecutor described the room as having “a giant bed…and a bar and doors, doors with no handles and automatic locks controlled by Peter Nygard”.
Prosecutors alleged that Nygard would assault the women once they were trapped in the room.
After Nygard’s conviction, his son Kai Zen Bickle told reporters outside the Toronto court that the jury’s ruling was “a victory” for all those “who came forward and were denied justice”.
“One more child won’t be affected, one more woman won’t be affected, ” Mr Bickle said. “(Nygard) has to actually sit down and think about all of these things.”
Mr Bickle has become an outspoken supporter of his father’s alleged victims and described the moment Nygard was found guilty on Sunday as “emotional”.
“There are so many survivors out there, this is their day,” he said.
Nygard’s lawyer Brian Greenspan said “we will consider the options” when asked by reporters whether Nygard would seek an appeal.
A sentencing hearing will be set on 21 November.
During closing arguments earlier this week, Crown prosecutors and Nygard’s defence team painted dramatically different pictures of the man who once hobnobbed with celebrities and stood at the helm of a lucrative global apparel empire.
Mr Greenspan told jurors that the state’s case rested on “revisionist history” built on “contradictions and innuendo”, Canadian media reported.
He also claimed that four of the five women – who are also part of a US class action lawsuit – were motivated by financial gain.
Over five days of tense testimony and cross-examination earlier in the trial, Nygard said he could never have acted “in that kind of manner” and that he did not recall four of the five women, according to CBC.
Prosecutors relied heavily on the evidence of the women in court.
Crown Attorney Neville Golwalla addressed the media on Sunday after the verdict and thanked the women who had come forward.
“This is a crime that typically happens in private and profoundly impacts human dignity,” Ms Golwalla said.
“To stand up and recount those indignities in a public forum such as a courtroom is never easy and takes great courage.”
Nygard – who was once estimated to be worth at least $700m (£570m) – is still facing another trial in Montreal next year and assault and confinement charges in Winnipeg.
Once his criminal cases in Canada are completed, he is set to be extradited to the US, where authorities claim he engaged in a “decades-long pattern of criminal conduct” involving at least a dozen victims across the globe. He is currently fighting that extradition.
The guilty verdicts on Sunday cap a stunning fall from grace for Nygard.
In February 2020, he stepped down as chairman of his firm, Nygard International, shortly before it filed for bankruptcy after US authorities raided its New York headquarters.
He has been jailed since his arrest in December the same year.