TORONTO (AP) — Former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard leveraged his wealth, assets and status over several years to lure young women and girls to a top-floor bedroom suite at his company’s Toronto headquarters where he forced himself on them, prosecutors alleged Tuesday as arguments at his sexual assault trial got underway.
Nygard invited all five complainants in the case — whose identities are protected by a publication ban — to visit his custom-built office building under pretenses ranging from tours to job interviews, with all the encounters ending in the bedroom suite, the prosecution said. There, he sexually assaulted them at different times, sometimes trapping or intoxicating them, the prosecution alleged in opening arguments.
“Five women, it took them years to come forward. 1 Niagara St., a custom-design office building with huge letters on the front: Nygard. The Toronto headquarters of a fashion empire,” assistant prosecution attorney Ana Serban said.
“But within these walls, behind all the trappings of success and power, there is a bedroom suite with a giant bed, a stone jacuzzi, a bar and doors — doors with no handle, doors with automatic, keypad-operated locks controlled by Peter Nygard.”
Nygard has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in alleged incidents dating back to the ’80s, ’90s and mid-2000s.
The 82-year-old appeared in court sporting a suit with no tie, tinted glasses and with his long white hair tied back.
Nygard also is set to be extradited to the United States to faces sex-related charges there, but only once his criminal cases Canada are completed. Nygard was first arrested in Winnipeg in 2020 under the Extradition Act after being charged with nine sex-related counts in New York.
The first complainant in Toronto, the prosecution said, will testify she met Nygard in her 20s while on a flight to the Bahamas, where he allegedly flattered her, offered her a job and a stay at his property in the Caribbean country, which she declined. After recognizing him on TV later, the woman called him and was invited to 1 Niagara St. for a job interview, court heard.
“It ends in his top-floor bedroom suite. She grows uncomfortable, she tries to leave. He tackles her onto the bed, puts his full body into it, pins her down on her back and tries to undress her, rips her clothing,” Serban, the assistant prosecution lawyer, alleged. “She’s terrified.”
Nygard then allegedly penetrated the complainant with his fingers and ripped her blouse with his teeth, only stopping when his next appointment was announced on the intercom, Serban said.
Nygard founded the now-defunct Nygard International brand in Winnipeg in 1967.