OTTAWA – Fashion mogul Peter Nygard, on trial for alleged serial rapes, on Wednesday took a Canadian jury on a virtual tour of his properties and offices, rejecting claims his Bahamas mansion included a secret sex lair.
The founder of Nygard International has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting four women and a 16-year-old girl in Toronto between 1988 and 2004.
His accusers have said he invited them to his opulent offices in Toronto on the pretense of modelling or designing opportunities, only to find themselves “trapped” in a top floor bedroom suite with a hot tub, where they claimed he preyed on them.
The court also heard testimony about Nygard’s property in the Bahamas, known as Nygard Cay, where he threw lavish parties.
Nygard flatly rejected on Wednesday that any part of the estate had been designed or intended to be used for secret sexual romps.
“That’s insane,” he said. “There was no such thing as that.”
His lawyer Brian Greenspan earlier this week disputed the prosecution’s depiction of Nygard as “a sexual predator… (and) what’s been misrepresented as his secret and hidden cave”.
On the stand, Nygard recounted his childhood, his family’s immigration from Finland and his building of Canada’s largest womenswear maker.
He founded his business empire in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1967.
The company, however, filed for bankruptcy protection shortly after police and the FBI raided its Manhattan corporate headquarters in 2020.
At times Nygard, 82, struggled to remember dates and names, telling the jury he has increasingly suffered “memory lapses”.
“It’s almost embarrassing that all of a sudden my mind goes blank,” he said, adding with a chuckle: “I recommend not to get old.”
Mostly he appeared lucid and even jubilant when speaking about his garment industry work and his properties – all designed by him and inspired, he said, by his Finnish heritage.
As he reminisced, jurists were shown pictures of his homes and offices, featuring stone and woodwork and large windows.
Greenspan has said Nygard would testify that he doesn’t recall meeting four of his five accusers and would “categorically” deny the allegations made against him by the fifth complainant.
“It is impossible to have a recollection of what did not occur,” Greenspan told the court on Tuesday, calling the women’s testimony “inaccurate, unreliable and untrustworthy”.
Nygard is to resume testifying on Thursday. AFP