Woman who met Nygard at Quebec club is final complainant set to testify in sexual assault trial | CBC News

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WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual abuse and vulgar language.

For two weeks, a Toronto courtroom has heard graphic and disturbing testimony from four women who all claim they were sexually assaulted by one-time Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard.

And with each complainant, Nygard’s defence lawyer, Brian Greenspan, has tried to whittle away at their stories, attempting to show contradictions with past statements the women gave to police and questioning elements of their testimony.

On Monday, the trial is expected to hear from the fifth and final complainant — a woman whom Nygard met at a club in Hull, Que. Her testimony will attempt to add to the narrative the Crown has been pushing forward — that Nygard established a similar pattern of sexual assault with each of the women.

Nygard, 82, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. Justice Robert Goldstein is presiding over the jury trial.

The Crown contends that in these five cases — which cover a period from the late 1980s to 2005, and involve women ranging in age from 16 to their late 20s — Nygard used his power and status to lure them to his downtown Toronto office building.

Once there, they would end up in this private bedroom suite, usually following a tour of his building. And it’s inside that suite, the Crown alleges — backed by each of the four women who has testified — that Nygard would attack and sexually assault them.

Some of the women also told the court that the mirrored door leading into his bedroom — which included a large bed, bathtub, kitchenette and televisions embedded in the wall — had no handle and that Nygard punched in a security code on a pad to unlock if from inside.

Court heard from 3 women last week

Jurors heard testimony from one complainant on the first week of the trial, and last week, they heard from three women — including one who was 16 when she said she met Nygard at his office building after being taken there by a much older man she had been seeing. When she arrived, they ended up in his bedroom, where she was held down by both men, she testified.

The woman said she was forced to perform oral sex on the man she had been seeing and that a woman who was present sucked on one of her nipples. Meanwhile, Nygard performed oral sex on her, before penetrating her vagina with his penis, she told the court.

The upper part of a glass and brick building is shown against a cloudy sky.
The former headquarters of Nygard’s now-defunct clothing company, located at 1 Niagara St. in Toronto, is shown on Sept. 28. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The third complainant said she met Nygard on a flight from Turks and Caicos to the Bahamas and was asked to help host his parties. She hosted one at his Bahamas residence and then was asked to host a party at his Toronto headquarters.

But once inside his private bedroom, she told the trial, the guests started to undress, and she noticed there was pornography on two of the televisions in his bedroom.

Feeling uncomfortable, she said she took a couple of drinks to calm down, but she blacked out and woke up naked on the bed with Nygard on top of her, pinning her down.

The woman testified that the other guests had gathered around the bed to watch as Nygard thrust his penis against her vagina. She said she twice told him “no,” but it wasn’t until she started yelling “Stop” that he got off of her.

Job offer led to assault, trial told

The fourth woman said she met Nygard on a flight from Toronto to the Bahamas but that she didn’t know who he was. After some brief conversations on the flight, court was told, Nygard said he liked her personality, and he offered her a job running part of the importing and exporting of textiles for his business and use of his place while she and her friend vacationed in the Bahamas.

She testified that she had no related job experience that would allow her to take on such a role, that his offer was too good to be true and that she didn’t pay much attention to it or his offer to use his residence in the Bahamas.

But a couple of days after she returned to Toronto, the woman said, she was surprised when she saw Nygard being interviewed on television. She told the friend who had accompanied her on the trip, who told the woman that she had missed her big chance and that she should call him.

She woman testified that she called Nygard from work, told him she was interested in his offer and that they arranged to meet at his building to talk about the job.

The trial was told that the woman was given a tour of the building and that it ended up in Nygard’s private bedroom, where, suddenly, he tackled her to his bed.

She testified that she was surprised at how strong he was and that he was able to penetrate her vagina with a “few” fingers. The attack stopped when his secretary or assistant came on the intercom to say that his next appointment had arrived, she said.

“It’s your lucky day,” Nygard said, according to the woman. Since her shirt was torn in the attack, she said Nygard told her to grab one off a rack  in the room, and then she left.

Nygard, she testified, was “like an animal” and that it was as if “a light switch went off,” turning him into a totally different person.

Defence challenges women’s credibility

Greenspan challenged the credibility of each of the women while getting them all to admit that they are part of a civil lawsuit launched against Nygard in the United States.

For the woman who was 16 at the time of the alleged assault, Greenspan referred to the statement she gave police, in which she never told the officers she had said “no” during the alleged assault.

And she agreed with Greenspan that her testimony that she had said “no” were “new memories.”

A courtroom sketch showing a judge, an older man at a table and a woman on the witness stand.
Nygard, shown in this courtroom sketch, looks on as a woman who said she met him more than 30 years ago on the tarmac of a Bahamas airport testified at his Toronto trial that he raped her months after their initial meeting. (Pam Davies/CBC)

For the third woman, Greenspan referred to a party she had hosted in the Bahamas for Nygard a few months before the alleged assault, and said that at that party, as she herself testified, guests had taken off their clothes.

He suggested she must have known that the guests at the Nygard party in Toronto were going to engage in sexual activity when they started disrobing, based on what she previously witnessed.

“Absolutely not,” she said.

The woman also told the court that she worked for Nygard as a hostess a few times over the next six years after he told her he would never touch her again.

Greenspan challenged that, saying she never made any mention of that to the police in her statement.

He suggested that the woman — who had testified that she wore a catsuit to the party at his Niagara Street building in Toronto and had ordered Chinese food for the group — was there to socialize.

A man in formal court clothing walks outside.
Brian Greenspan, Nygard’s defence lawyer, is shown arriving at the courthouse in Toronto on Sept. 11. Nygard’s trial in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice is being heard by a jury. (Tijana Marti/The Canadian Press)

The woman said she was there to socialize because she was a hostess.

But Greenspan questioned her accusation that she was a victim of a sexual crime, insisting that “any allegations of sexual impropriety that you’ve made in relation to the events at 1 Niagara St. are a total fabrication.”

“I think you’re not being told the truth, sir,” she said.

As he has repeatedly done with the other complainants, Greenspan referred the fourth woman back to her police statement, saying she never told police that Nygard said it was her “lucky day” after the alleged attack.

She agreed that she never told police but that the memory had been recently triggered.

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