TORONTO — Peter Nygard testified Tuesday that he had "nothing to hide" during his 11-hour interview with a Toronto police detective in October 2021, but could not recall several details of that conversation when questioned about them in court.
Under cross-examination by the Crown, the former fashion mogul said he didn't remember the detective playing a video clip for him that showed one of the five complainants in the trial who have accused Nygard of sexual assault.
Nygard also said he could not recall the detective asking him about another woman who may have been present at his company's Toronto headquarters when he allegedly sexually assaulted the complainant there in the early 2000s.
“I remember bits and pieces … but I can’t put it all together," Nygard said of that part of the police interview.
He testified that he had spoken with his lawyer before the police interview, and that he felt comfortable talking to the detective.
"I went in there to co-operate with them fully. I had nothing to hide," Nygard said in court.
The 82-year-old founder of a now-defunct women's fashion company 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.
Multiple complainants in the trial have alleged they were taken to Nygard's Toronto headquarters under pretences ranging from tours to job interviews, with encounters ending in a top-floor bedroom suite where they allege they were sexually assaulted.
Nygard denied those allegations as he testified in his own defence last week. He told the jury that he has never done the things the five complainants in the trial have accused him of, nor would he engage in such behaviour.
Tuesday's cross-examination was tense at times as Crown attorney Neville Golwalla zeroed in on certain statements from Nygard's previous testimony, or expressed incredulity at Nygard's inability to directly answer some of his questions.
Nygard appeared frustrated by what he said was Golwalla asking him the same question many times and at one point said to the Crown attorney, "You seem to want to trap me into some type of statements.”
Golwalla replied that he wasn't trying to trap him. "I'm allowed to ask you questions," he said.
When Golwalla asked Nygard if he remembered the detective asking him about one of the girlfriends he had at the time of the complainant's alleged sexual assault in the early 2000s, Nygard said he “might have” but didn’t quite recall.
Asked whether the detective had told him about the complainant's allegation that she had been forced into group sex by Nygard around 2004 or 2005, Nygard replied, “as I’m sitting here right now, I don’t remember."
The Crown attorney referred Nygard to the transcript of his interview with the detective several times to refresh his memory.
“You had two years and 10 days to think about it," Golwalla said, referring to the complainant's allegations, as they were presented to Nygard by the detective during the interview.
“I haven’t had much of a chance to think about the details of this, no," Nygard said. "Because I never knew what, of all those statements that (the detective) put forward, I was actually going to be charged with.”
Nygard was also asked about his previous testimony that a "suspicious" fire destroyed paper records at his Winnipeg building roughly 10 days before his interview with Toronto police in 2021.
Nygard told the jury that the building was under receivership at the time of the fire and that no one from his company had control of the facility.
The Crown attorney said there’s no reference to the Winnipeg fire in the transcript of Nygard's interview with the police officer.
“I was answering his questions," Nygard said of the detective's inquiries. “I was very frank and honest with him.”
The trial continues Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2023.
Sonja Puzic, The Canadian Press