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Woman testifies she was raped by Peter Nygard night of Rolling Stones concert

A woman who said she met Peter Nygard more than 30 years ago on the tarmac of a Nassau airport broke down in tears Tuesday as she testified in a Toronto court that the Canadian fashion mogul raped her months after their initial meeting.

Former fashion mogul has pleaded not guilty to 5 counts of sexual assault, 1 of forcible confinement

An older man with white hair, wearing a black suit and white shirt, sits with his legs crossed in the back of a vehicle.

WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual abuse.

A woman who said she met Peter Nygard more than 30 years ago on the tarmac of a Nassau airport broke down in tears Tuesday as she testified in a Toronto court that the Canadian fashion mogul raped her months after their initial meeting.

"I was forced to stay in a room against my will and I was raped," said the woman.

"By whom?" asked Crown attorney Neville Golwalla.

"By Mr. Peter Nygard," she said, breaking down in tears.

The woman, now 62, is one of five women the Crown alleges Nygard sexually assaulted, and the first to testify since his trial in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice began last week.

The 82-year-old Canadian fashion mogul has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement.

The woman, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, told court that the night of the alleged assault, she was invited to meet Nygard at the Toronto SkyDome for a Rolling Stones concert.

The woman also described how she first met Nygard. In the summer of 1988 or 1989, she was 27 or 28, single, and an actress who had been living in Toronto, she said. She had gone on a yoga retreat in the Bahamas with a male friend.

On the way back home, while waiting on the tarmac at the Nassau airport for a plane back to Toronto, Nygard approached her from behind, she testified.

"Someone touched me on the back and said, 'Oh, that's a very nice colour you're wearing,'" the woman told court.

She said they spoke briefly and that Nygard talked about himself, telling her he was a fashion designer who owned property in various places, including the Bahamas.

She said she found Nygard to be an interesting person and recalled thinking, "he's an attractive man."

Nygard gave her a lot of information about his wealth and his position in the world, she said.

After another conversation with Nygard on the plane, the woman said she agreed he could drive her back to her Toronto apartment from the airport.

After they had landed, she said, she got into a minivan with Nygard, his female assistant and two young children, and a driver. But during that drive, the minivan took a detour to Nygard's Toronto headquarters on 1 Niagara Street, court heard.

Nygard gave her a tour of the building that included showing her his private bedroom — a room she described as "masculine" as a "cabin somewhere in the forest" and like a "bear's den."

The room included a tiny kitchenette, three small televisions embedded in the walls, a black bathtub sculpted in rock, walls covered in wood and a huge bed with fur on it, she said.

She said she thought he pushed a button to open the door to the room, and that it was activated by something else other than a doorknob.

She said it "felt like a cocoon" and that Nygard said this was the "bachelor pad" he slept in when he was in Toronto.

"At that time, I didn't feel any threat," she said.

She stayed in the room for about five minutes, she said, but was tired and hungry and wanted to go home. They exchanged phone numbers and she was driven home, she said.

Nygard would call her about a week later, she testified.

Her testimony continues today.

The Crown alleges Nygard, the founder of a now-defunct international clothing company, used his power and status to lure and sexually assault five women — aged 16 to 28 at the time — in his private bedroom suite of his downtown Toronto headquarters in incidents ranging from the late 1980s to 2005.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gollom

Senior Reporter

Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.

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