Son of Peter Nygard reacts to father’s sexual assault conviction

Warning: This story describes details of alleged sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

The son of Peter Nygard, a former fashion mogul who had been found guilty of four counts of sexual assault, told media on Sunday that he was glad his father had been brought to justice, calling him a “systematic monster.”

Kai Zen Bickle, who goes by his mother’s surname, explained that he felt “Kai Nygard” had died four years ago, when he said he witnessed his father “basically assault a young child” at a dinner party.

At the time, Bickle spoke up to executives at his father’s company, where he also worked.

“I was attacked and told that I was mentally unwell and all of these things, and I got a taste of what it’s like to blow the whistle against … a powerful predator,” he said Sunday.

Nygard “used his business talents for evil, to prey on others,” Bickle said.

“And it’s a very good thing that justice was served here.”

The 82-year-old Nygard, who has been the subject of numerous sexual assault allegations in both the U.S. and Canada, was found guilty on Sunday of four counts of sexual assault but was acquitted of a fifth count, plus a count of forcible confinement.

The charges stemmed from five women who testified that various meetings with Nygard, ranging from tours to job interviews, ended with them being sexually assaulted by him at his company’s headquarters in Toronto. The allegations dated back from the 1980s until the mid-2000s, and Nygard denied all five women’s allegations.

One women testified that she was only 16 years old at the time of the assault.

Bickle said on Sunday that he is thinking about “all of those who care about justice and are open to the idea of stopping predators from abusing and targeting children, using drugs to abuse women, and using tactics like jurisdiction loopholes or threats of lawsuit to silence their victims.”

He had flown in to watch his father take the stand during the trial earlier this fall.

Prior to that moment in court, the last time he saw his father in person was “the 2019 dinner, where I saw him inappropriately touch a child. And I said something then, and I was attacked for that internally within the company, and silenced, told that I was crazy.

“Since then, it’s been a massive effort to seek justice.”

Speaking against his father came at a cost, he said, tarring him professionally and personally.

“It’s not a good brand association to be the son of a monster,” he said. “It’s negatively impacted me all across the board. I lost everything, I walked away from an inheritance to do the right thing.”

The upside, Bickle said, is being safe in the knowledge that “one more child won’t be affected, one more woman won’t be affected, and that he has to now sit and think about what he’s done.

“I loved my father,” he continued. “It hurts me to see all of these things. I knew a different man. I got a different version of him. And for me that bond was real, those moments were real.”

He credits his mother with giving him the strength to come forward and stand up for his principles. Bickle, who is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, grew up in the Washington statewith his mother, and only began to spend more time with his father as he got older.

Nygard rose to prominence in the fashion world after he founded a fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967 that produced women’s clothing. He stepped down as chairman of the company in February 2020 after the FBI raided his offices in New York City.

Nygard is still facing criminal charges in three other jurisdictions, including sexual assault and forcible confinement charges in Quebec and Manitoba, and nine counts in New York City, including sex trafficking. These charges haven’t been tested in court. Two of Nygard’s other sons have also filed sexual assault charges against their father.

On Sunday, Bickle said he “locked eyes” with his father in the courtroom after he was found guilty.

“For me, it was emotional, but again I’d like to stress there are so many survivors out there who—this is their day.”

Since he became aware of his father’s criminal behaviour, Bickle has been working to find ways to close legislative loopholes that allow predators to escape consequences. That work is far from over, he says.

“It’s not just about Peter Nygard, it’s about examining the system, the laws and the rules, to see where that problem was so that we can correct it for others in the future,” he said. “That’s where we’ll actually get a big benefit from this tragic and terrible situation.” 

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