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Canadian ex-fashion mogul convicted of sexual assault

By AFP

November 13, 2023 09:21 AM


File photo

Peter Nygard, the founder of one of Canada's largest clothing brands, was found guilty Sunday on four counts of sexual assault, a court announced in Toronto.

The jury, which deliberated for five days, also acquitted the Finnish-Canadian Nygard on one count of sexually assaulting one of the women who testified at the seven-week trial, and one count of forcible confinement, according to Ontario's Superior Court of Justice.

The charges against the onetime fashion mogul, now age 82, involved four women and a 16-year-old girl, and date from incidents that occurred between 1988 and 2005.

The trial addressed the first in a series of charges he faces for sex crimes against multiple women over several decades in Canada and the United States.

"I know it's been a long and arduous case for you," Justice Robert Goldstein told the jury.

On leaving the courthouse, Nygard's lawyer Brian Greenspan did not rule out the possibility of appealing the verdict.

During closing arguments Greenspan had said the case was built on "contradictions and innuendo" and he panned the prosecution's portrayal of his client.

"To describe Peter Nygard as an evil predator, a Jekyll and Hyde personality who, through wealth and power, lured women to his den of iniquity and forced women to comply with his sexual demands... is neither fair nor accurate," he said.

Greenspan said the complainants' testimony was at times "painfully absurd," and he suggested that four of the women were motivated by financial gain or "gold-digging," as they had admitted to being involved in a US class-action lawsuit against him.

Prosecutor Ana Serban, on the other hand, said Nygard on the stand was evasive and inconsistent, and that his memory was unreliable and selective.

Serban pointed to "remarkably similar accounts" of his five accusers, independent of each other, about how they met Nygard, were invited to his office building and "how he sexually assaulted them in his private bedroom suite."

"The similarities defy 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 he never raped any of the five.

"The type of allegations that were said and were described is the type of conduct that I know that I have never done, I never would do," he told the court, even while admitting that his memory had become "very fuzzy" with age.

He will return to court on November 21 for sentencing.

Nygard, who in 1967 founded the firm that was to become Nygard International, has been held in detention since his arrest in 2020.

He must now face similar charges in Quebec and Manitoba, as well as extradition to the United States, where he has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, racketeering and trafficking.


AFP


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