Peter Nygard denies sexually assaulting complainants in his Toronto trial

TORONTO — Peter Nygard testified Friday that he has "never done" the things five complainants in his sexual assault trial have accused him of, nor would he engage in such behaviour.

Nygard, the founder of a now-defunct international women's clothing company, is accused of using his position in the fashion industry to lure women and girls. He has been testifying in his own defence this week and has frequently said he does not remember meeting most of the complainants.

Five women – whose identities are protected by a publication ban – have alleged they were taken to Nygard's Toronto headquarters at different times under pretences ranging from tours to job interviews, with all encounters ending in a top-floor bedroom suite where they allege they were sexually assaulted.

Nygard denied those allegations.

"The type of allegations that were said and described is the type of conduct that I know I have never done and never would do," he told a jury on Friday.

The 82-year-old has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in alleged incidents ranging from the 1980s to mid-2000s.

Nygard told the jury that a "suspicious" fire in Winnipeg, where his company had facilities, destroyed his paper records two years ago, including information on his whereabouts at the time of some of the alleged offences. He said his digital files had also been "hacked" months before that.

Nygard said Friday that he did previously meet one of the complainants, but denied sexually assaulting her in his Toronto building in the late 1990s.

The woman has previously testified that she had woken up to Nygard trying to penetrate her in his private suite in the building at 1 Niagara St., while other people watched.

"That absolutely never occurred," Nygard said under questioning from his lawyer Brian Greenspan.

The woman has testified that she accepted a hostess job from Nygard before the alleged sexual assault. Nygard denied that he hired her to work at what was described in court as a "midnight party" at his headquarters.

"No such event took place and no such hiring took place," he said.

Nygard testified that he doesn't recall meeting that particular complainant prior to a New Year's Eve party in the Bahamas in what he said might have been 1997.

The complainant has testified that she met Nygard on a flight departing from Turks and Caicos in 1996, but Nygard told the court that he only travelled to those islands around the year 2010.

Nygard was also asked Friday about a complainant who has testified that she attended a Rolling Stones concert with Nygard in Toronto in the late 1980s before being led back to the top-floor bedroom suite, where she alleged she was trapped and attacked.

"I do not recall ever attending a Rolling Stones concert in Toronto," Nygard testified.

He told the jury he had no memory of meeting that complainant, nor did he recall bringing her to his Toronto headquarters or giving her a tour of the building, but added, "I guess it's possible."

Nygard also said he didn't recall meeting another complainant, who testified that she went to the Toronto headquarters with an adult man when she was 16 years old, in the early 2000s. The woman has testified that once she got there, Nygard discussed her vagina, took off her skirt and underwear and forced himself on top of her.

"I would never have done such a thing," Nygard said.

That complainant has also testified that another woman who was there gave her pills on her way out, which she later recognized as emergency contraceptive Plan B. Nygard said he never gave anyone Plan B "in those years."

On Thursday, Nygard had testified about two of the five complainants and said he did not recall meeting them or bringing them to his Toronto building. He also repeatedly told the court that he would have never forced himself on someone.

The trial is set to continue next week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2023.

Sonja Puzic, The Canadian Press