Canadian ex-fashion mogul convicted of sexual assault

Canada: Peter Nygard, the founder of one of Canada´s largest clothing brands, was found guilty on 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 in Canada and the United States and spanning several decades. “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.”


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