The private bedroom suite in Peter Nygard’s downtown Toronto office, where he is accused of sexually assaulting five women, was not a “hidden secret,” his defence lawyer said Wednesday morning.
Nygard has pleaded not guilty to 5 counts of sexual assault, 1 of forcible confinement
Mark Gollom · CBC News
WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual abuse.
The private bedroom suite of Peter Nygard’s downtown Toronto office headquarters was not a “hidden secret,” his defence lawyer suggested Wednesday morning.
The suite was actually one of two bedrooms in the building, court heard, which were also used by others who came to Toronto.
The Crown alleges Nygard, the founder of a now-defunct international clothing company, used his power and status to lure and sexually assault five women in the private quarters in incidents ranging from the late 1980s to 2005.
The 82-year-old Canadian fashion mogul pleaded not guilty last week in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement.
On Wednesday morning, Nygard’s defence lawyer Brian Greenspan cross-examined David Gauthier, an independent contractor who did renovations at the Toronto office building at 1 Niagara Street for three months in 2006.
Under questioning, Gauthier agreed there were two bedrooms in the office: one on the fifth floor and one on the first floor.
Gauthier also acknowledged that Nygard had bedrooms in other buildings he owned, and that the bedrooms at 1 Niagara Street were used by employees who came to Toronto on business trips. The fifth-floor private suite, where the attacks are alleged to have occurred, would be used by Nygard’s son and other VIP guests who came to town, he said.
As part of opening arguments, the Crown on Tuesday gave a brief but detailed synopsis of each of the attacks Nygard is alleged to have committed against the women, who ranged in age from 16 to 28 at the time.
Nygard established a similar pattern of sexual assault, court was told: He had met these women previously and that initial meeting would later lead to “the tour” of his Toronto headquarters, which would end in the private bedroom suite.
It was here that Nygard would attack the women, the Crown alleges, pinning them to the bed, where they would struggle against him but ultimately be overpowered.
On Wednesday, Greenspan said Nygard was proud of his buildings, which were designed to incorporate his Finnish heritage, and that he often gave people tours.
Greenspan also suggested in the cross-examination that it wasn’t as if Nygard’s personal quarters at 1 Niagara Street were a “hidden secret” — it was just part of the tour.
“That I can’t attest to,” Gauthier replied.
Greenspan also asked Gauthier whether Nygard would be accompanied by girlfriends when he came to Toronto.
Gauthier agreed that was a regular occurrence; he would come to Toronto with a girlfriend and leave with that girlfriend.
Nygard founded Nygard International in Winnipeg in 1967 and stepped down as chairman of the clothing company in February 2020 before it filed for bankruptcy.
The trial is expected to last approximately seven weeks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.
With files from The Canadian Press