Hours after a Rolling Stones concert in downtown Toronto, a woman found herself trapped in the plush bedroom of an office building with Peter Nygard, a renowned Canadian fashion mogul at the time, the woman testified in court on Tuesday.
When she rebuffed his advances, he became enraged, she told jurors, pulling off her clothes and raping her. Afterward, she said, he threw a Canadian 100-dollar bill at her as she fled.
The woman’s description of the 1989 sexual assault is a key part of prosecutors’ case against Mr. Nygard, now 82, who is accused of sexually assaulting five women in a bedroom suite at his company’s headquarters in downtown Toronto. He was charged two years ago by the Toronto Police with five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement for episodes beginning in the 1980s.
Mr. Nygard has also been indicted by prosecutors in Manhattan, and he is set to be extradited to New York after his criminal cases, which include charges in Montreal and Winnipeg, conclude in Canada. Over a 25-year period, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said, he used his company’s influence, its money and its employees to recruit adult and minor female victims for the sexual gratification of him and his associates.
Mr. Nygard has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has denied the accusations through statements from his lawyers
The Toronto trial, which opened last week, is the first time that any criminal charges in the case against Mr. Nygard were heard in court. The woman, an actress whose name has been banned from publication by a court order to protect victims in sexual assault cases, was also the first of the accusers to testify before a jury, during what is expected to be a seven-week trial.
She told the court on Tuesday that Mr. Nygard had invited her to attend the Stones concert several months after they met during a Toronto-bound flight from the Bahamas. The circumstances of the meeting were odd, she said, and involved someone from Mr. Nygard’s entourage summoning her from her economy-class seat to be introduced to him in business class.
Mr. Nygard took her on a visit to his office building, she said, leading to his bedroom suite on the fifth floor and closing the door behind them. That’s when, the woman said, she realized there was no doorknob and asked him how she could leave.
Mr. Nygard then punched a few numbers into a keypad beside the bed to open the door, she testified. But when the woman tried the keypad, guessing the numbers, it would not open, she testified, sometimes tearfully.
“It was like a nightmare,” she told jurors. “I was starting to panic a little bit. I thought, ‘Something is really wrong here.’ I was trapped.”
Mr. Nygard’s mood shifted after she accused him of raping her, the woman said, and he called her a taxi and threw the money in her direction.
“It was back to business, as if nothing had happened, like a personality switch,” she said.
Prosecutors have described a pattern of Mr. Nygard’s luring the victims, at the time between 16 and 28 years old, into his bedroom suite. The tactic, they said, usually involved inviting them on a tour of the office that led to his bedroom, a suite decorated to resemble a cabin with wood panels on the ceiling, log post beams and exposed brick walls.
It was complete with a stone Jacuzzi, a bar and pornography videos playing on a large television, the court heard.
Mr. Nygard had often been photographed around groups of young women, cultivating an image of a playboy millionaire.
His privately held company supplied him with the resources and employees that prosecutors say either enabled or participated in his pursuit of women to sexually assault.
At its height, his company was a global clothing brand and said it employed 12,000 people. It filed for bankruptcy in 2020.
Mr. Nygard, who was arrested in Winnipeg in 2020 at the request of the United States under an extradition treaty, will remained jailed during the trial.