Fashion mogul Peter Nygård used his power and status to lure five women separately into a private bedroom suite attached to his company headquarters where he sexually assaulted them, a court in Toronto has heard.
In opening arguments on Tuesday, prosecutors said that Nygård met the women in social settings and invited them to the headquarters of his clothing empire in Toronto.
All of the “tours” ended in his bedroom suite. The room had a bed, televisions, and a jacuzzi. Prosecutors say the doors did not have handles and the locks were controlled by Nygård.
Nygård has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. All complainants’ names are covered by a publication ban by the Canadian courts.
Most of the women were in their 20s at the time of the alleged incidents, which occurred over a 25-year period, beginning in the 1980s.
One of the women was 16 years old at the time of her alleged attack.
In one case, Nygård, who was in his 40s, met a woman in her 20s on a flight to the Bahamas, where he owned a sprawling estate, said Ana Serban, a crown lawyer.
Nygård later invited her for a job interview at his Toronto office. When they ended up in the bedroom, she tried to leave.
He “tackles the woman onto the bed, puts his whole body into it, pins her down on her back and tries to undress her” against her will, said Serban. “She’s terrified.”
Nygård is alleged to have given her a new blouse and skirt to replace those he tore during the attack.
“She runs out of the building,” Serban said. “This was supposed to be a job interview at an office building.”
Born in Finland, Nygård grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his own namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.
In 2020, US authorities charged him with racketeering and sex trafficking, alleging decades of crimes with dozens of victims in the United States, the Bahamas, and Canada.
57 women – including 18 Canadians – have joined that lawsuit, which alleges that Nygård used violence, intimidation, bribery, and company employees to lure victims and avoid accountability for decades. Nygård has denied all allegations.
Nygård also faces sex-related charges in Manitoba and Quebec and is set to be extradited to the US to face sex-related charges there once his criminal cases in Canada are completed.
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