Allegations of sexual misconduct have swirled around Winnipeg fashion tycoon Peter Nygard, 78, for decades.
Jan. 16, 1980: Nygard is charged with rape by Winnipeg authorities. An 18-year-old woman told police Nygard had assaulted her. He’s detained in custody.
Jan. 18, 1980: Nygard is released on bail, after signing a $7,500 surety.
June 18, 1980: The Crown stays the rape charge against Nygard after his alleged victim refuses to testify in court. Nygard tells the media police showed “poor judgement” by investigating the case. He says he plans to finance a “foundation” that would work to improve the justice system.
June 22, 1996: The Free Press reveals Nygard International, a Canadian clothing brand based in Winnipeg, paid more than $20,000 to three former female staffers who filed sexual harassment complaints with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
In addition to the complainants, the Free Press spoke with four other former employees. All of them recounted similar accusations, saying Nygard would often hurl verbal abuse at staff and was sexually explicit with workers.
“Every time we went into his office to get something, his pants were open and his hands were down his pants,” said Judy Shier, who served as a Winnipeg communications manager for the company.
One woman, who did not want her identity revealed, recounted similar experiences.
“He called me in to get some work, and he was stroking himself at his desk. He had his hands inside his pants, and I looked at him like he was some kind of pig,” she said. “He pulled his pants way down, and he was stroking himself looking at me.”
While Nygard International settled, it maintained it did so for economic reasons, not because it was admitting wrongdoing. The company claims the women were motivated to make the accusations for financial gain.
1997: Finnish model/musician Linda Lampenius begins speaking out against Nygard. She claims: “No women should go with Nygard” and says she needed her manager for “protection” during visits to his home.
In response, Nygard files a defamation lawsuit. Three years later, the case was settled and Lampenius agrees to print a full-page apology in the Finnish press.
2010: The CBC’s Fifth Estate produces a documentary alleging Nygard is abusive to staff and known to engage in sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Nygard files a defamation lawsuit. The case is still before the courts.
— Ryan Thorpe and Mélanie Ritchot