WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual abuse and vulgar language.
The first of five women accusing Peter Nygard of sexual assault said the Canadian fashion mogul became "a monster" as he trapped her inside his private bedroom suite in his downtown Toronto headquarters, chased her around the room and then raped her more than 30 years ago.
"I was forced to stay in a room against my will and I was raped," the woman testified in a Toronto courtroom on Tuesday.
"By whom?" asked Crown attorney Neville Golwalla.
"By Mr. Peter Nygard," she said, breaking down in tears.
Nygard, 82, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in alleged incidents involving five women, dating from the late 1980s to 2005.
In opening arguments made last week, the Crown told jurors that Nygard, the founder of a now-defunct international clothing company, used his power and status to lure and sexually assault the women — aged 16 to 28 at the time — in his private bedroom suite of his downtown Toronto headquarters.
Nygard, 82, is driven to a Toronto courthouse on Tuesday, ahead of the continuation of his sexual assault trial. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)
The woman, now 62, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, told court Tuesday that the night of the alleged assault, she was invited to meet Nygard at the Toronto SkyDome for a Rolling Stones concert in December of 1989.
She said that during the alleged attack, when she realized she was trapped and unable to overpower Nygard, she stopped putting up a fight.
"I was terrified," she said. "I didn't know what to do, I couldn't get out."
Instead, she testified, she "went limp," but fearing she could get pregnant or a disease, pleaded with Nygard to "put a f--king condom on."
The woman began her testimony by describing how she first met Nygard. It was the summer of 1988 or 1989, she said, and she was 27 or 28, single, and an actress who had been living in Toronto. She had gone on a yoga retreat in the Bahamas with a male friend when Nygard approached her at the Nassau airport, both on their way to Toronto.
"Someone touched me on the back and said, 'Oh, that's a very nice colour you're wearing,'" the woman told court.
She said he talked about himself, telling her he was a fashion designer who owned property in various places, including the Bahamas, and that she found him to be an interesting person and recalled thinking "he's an attractive man."
She accepted a ride from the airport back to her Toronto apartment, but Nygard's driver took a detour to the designer's downtown headquarters at 1 Niagara St.
Nygard gave her tour of the building, along with his private bedroom that included a small kitchenette, embedded television sets and a large bed, she said.
The two exchanged numbers, she said, and subsequently went out a couple times to restaurants. The woman said while she felt he was an interesting person, she had no attraction to him, that he was too full of himself, and that she was not being "talked with" but "talked to."
The former headquarters of Nygard's now-defunct clothing company at 1 Niagara St., in Toronto is pictured on Sept. 28, 2023. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
Months later, she said accepted an invitation to a Rolling Stones concert in December 1989, and then, while parked with him in his Mercedes near his office building, agreed to go inside for a drink.
She said he told her he wasn't going to do anything, but that she had a flash in her mind: "He's going to rape me."
Because of Nygard's social status, and as someone who knew then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, she said she ignored her concerns.
Once inside the building, they went to his bedroom suite, the woman told court, where Nygard pushed a button that opened the door.
After the door closed, with the two of them inside, she testified there was no doorknob inside the suite and that the door was locked.
Nygard told her she wasn't locked in, she said, showing her a keypad where he punched in some numbers to unlock the door. But she said when she tried it, the door remained locked, and that she started "to panic a little bit," thinking "something is really wrong here."
Nygard then told her to make him a sandwich, she said, and as she made him a ham sandwich, he started hurling insults. She said he called her a c--kteaser, that she was wasting his time. She said she rejected his insults and told him she never led him on, but that he became angrier, "pumping himself up."
When she brought him the sandwich, she said, he tried to grab her — and as he chased her around and over the bed, he would grab a body part and peel off a piece of her clothing. At one point, she said, Nygard was sitting on her with all his weight, pinning her to the bed.
"Why are you doing this?" she said she told Nygard.
The woman testified that when she begged him to wear a condom, he got off the bed, retrieved one, and then sexually assaulted her.
Afterward, she said she started to cry, and Nygard asked why she was crying.
"Because you raped me," she said she told Nygard.
"I didn't rape you," she said Nygard replied.
Golwalla asked the woman to describe Nygard from the point she was making the sandwich, to the point right after the alleged sexual assault.
"He became like another person, like a monster," the woman said.
But immediately after, Nygard was "back to business, as if nothing had happened," she said. "Like a personality switch."
Nygard called her a taxi, took out a $100 bill and threw it at her, she said, which she refused to take.
The woman's testimony continues on Wednesday.