Former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been found guilty of four counts of sexual assault.
The Toronto jury also acquitted him on Sunday of one of five counts of sexual assault and one of forcible confinement.
More to come.
An earlier version of the story is below.
A jury has reached a verdict in the sexual assault case against Peter Nygard, the former Canadian fashion mogul accused of attacking five women in his private bedroom of his downtown Toronto office building.
The jury is expected to return to court soon with its verdict.
Nygard, 82, had pleaded not guilty in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. Judge Robert Goldstein presided over the jury trial.
Nygard had originally faced eight counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement in the Toronto case, but five of those charges were dropped as jury selection was about to begin.
During the six-week trial, the court heard graphic and disturbing testimony from the five complainants, four who said they were 20 years old when they claimed they were assaulted, and one who said she was 16 years old when she alleges she was attacked by Nygard.
The women testified that from the late 1980s until around 2005, each ended up in Nygard’s private bedroom in his downtown Toronto building, where they say they were attacked, dominated and sexually assaulted by him.
The Crown argued that Nygard had used his wealth and power to lure some of the women, often resulting in a tour of his Toronto office building and ending in his private bedroom.
Some of the women told the court that there was a mirrored door leading to their bedroom, which had no handle on the inside and that two of the doors leading to the outside of their bedroom had to be unlocked and opened by pressing a button. inside, or by dialing a security code.
Two of the women told the court that they also felt trapped inside that room, that they felt there was no way out. One woman told the court that she repeatedly begged Nygard to let her out and that he finally relented. It was that accusation that led to the charge of forcible confinement.
Nygard testified in his defense
Nygard testified in his defense and appeared on the witness stand for five days. She testified that she did not remember four of the five women, nor did she remember having any interactions with them. But he also insisted and repeated that any of the allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault attributed to him could not have happened because he would never behave like that.
He contradicted some of the complainants’ testimonies, arguing, for example, that there was a handle on that interior door to his private bedroom and denying that there was any way to become locked or trapped inside.
In her closing argument, Crown Prosecutor Ana Serban argued that Nygard’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies, was unreliable, lacked credibility and should be rejected.
This contrasts, he said, with the testimony of the five complainants. The similarities in their independent testimonies defied coincidence, she said, and demonstrated Nygard’s guilt.
But Nygard’s attorney, Brian Greenspan, argued that it was the testimony of the five complainants that lacked credibility.
He told jurors they must carefully consider all of the evidence presented by the Crown and reflect on the “fatal flaws and unreliability of testimonials” of the five women.
Greenspan suggested that despite Nygard’s inability to remember the women, some of the details they testified about in court could have happened. For example, he said some of her evidence about how they initially met Nygard on the flights could be possible.
But other details heard in court were improbable, impossible, absurd or pure nonsense, Greenspan said.
“What never happened were the sexual assaults described by each of the complainants,” he stated.
Nygard faces other charges and a civil lawsuit
Greenspan also suggested that some of the women had been motivated to testify against Nygard because they had joined a class-action lawsuit in the United States against him. That lawsuit, which is currently on hold after a New York judge suspended the process, involves 57 women. Their accusations date back to 1977, and some of them claim they were assaulted when they were as young as 14 or 15 years old.
Nygard also faces one count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in Manitoba, for crimes allegedly committed in November 1993 and involving a then-20-year-old victim.
He also faces one count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in connection with incidents that allegedly took place in Quebec between Nov. 1, 1997, and Nov. 15, 1998, and involve an alleged victim.
Meanwhile, Nygard is also fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces charges in New York for nine crimes including conspiracy to commit extortion, transportation of a minor for the purpose of prostitution and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.