Finnish-Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was found guilty on Sunday of 4 counts of sexual assault.
He was also handed a charge of forcible confinement following a 7-week trial in Toronto.
He will return to court on November 21 for sentencing.
The businessman founded a fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967 that ultimately became Nygard International. The company produced women’s clothing under several brand names and had corporate facilities in both Canada and the US.
What was Nygard accused of?
Five women testified that they were invited to Nygard’s Toronto headquarters under pretexts including tours or job interviews. Four of the women said that they were sexually assaulted in the man’s top-floor bedroom suite.
One of the women said that Nygard did not allow her to leave his private suite for some time, which led to the forcible confinement charge. Others also testified to feeling trapped in the suite, saying that there were doors that had to be opened with a keypad code or the push of a button near the bed.
One woman said she was only 16 years old when she accompanied an older man she was dating at the time to Nygard’s headquarters, where she said Nygard sexually assaulted her. She testified that another woman handed her an emergency contraceptive pill as she was leaving.
Nygard denied the allegations, saying he did not recall meeting or interacting with 4 of the women who provided testimony.
Prosecutors argued that the fashion magnate was evasive and unreliable in his testimony and that similarities in the women’s stories showed a pattern of behavior.
The defense argued that the complainants’ claims were motivated by a class-action lawsuit against Nygard in the US. Nygard’s lawyer Brian Greenspan said that the case of the prosecution was built on “contradictions and innuendo” and suggested the women were motivated by financial gain.
Nygard was also acquitted of one charge of sexual assault and one charge of forcible confinement.
Nygard still facing charges in Canada, US
Nygard still faces separate sexual assault and forcible confinement cases in the Canadian states of Quebec and Manitoba, as well as in New York.
He was charged with 9 counts in New York in 2020. The federal Justice Minister at the time said that he would be extradited to the US after rulings were given in the cases against him in Canada.
In the US, he has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, racketeering and trafficking.
Nygard stepped down as the Chairman of the company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.
The firm has since filed for bankruptcy and entered into receivership.