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Bail hearing for Peter Nygard begins in Toronto after weeks of delay

A court sketch shows Peter Nygard during his Thursday appearance via video link at a bail hearing in Toronto. He faces charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement. (Pam Davies - image credit)

A court sketch shows Peter Nygard during his Thursday appearance via video link at a bail hearing in Toronto. He faces charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement. (Pam Davies – image credit)

Former Winnipeg fashion mogul Peter Nygard made a court appearance Thursday at a bail hearing in Toronto, where he faces charges of sexual assault.

Joining the hearing over Zoom, Nygard wore an orange prisoner’s uniform and sat in a narrow room in the Toronto detention facility where he is being held in custody.

The court heard witness testimony at Thursday’s hearing, where Nygard’s defence team is arguing the 80-year-old should be released on bail ahead of his trial.

Ontario justice of the peace John Scarfe is presiding over the hearing, which is scheduled to continue Friday at 10 a.m. ET.

Nygard was flown to Toronto at the end of October to face charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement related to incidents that allegedly happened in the city from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s.

He made his first appearance on the Toronto charges at the end of October, where court heard the charges involve six different women.

Witness, observers spoke to Nygard

Details of the Toronto case brought forward during the hearing on Thursday, including the specific allegations against Nygard, are covered by a publication ban and can only be reported if they are brought forward at a trial.

Nygard did not speak much during the hearing, but at one point during a break, observers on the Zoom call began talking to Nygard, who did not log out.

One called him a “rapist” and said he was ashamed to be his son.

Another said: “Karma’s a bitch. Going down, Nygard.”

Scarfe said it was inappropriate for observers to speak to Nygard, who has denied all allegations against him.

At the end of his testimony, one witness asked if he could say hello to Nygard, who told the witness he was “looking good.”

“God bless you, sir,” the witness responded.

Bail hearing delayed

Nygard’s bail hearing has been delayed at least twice. His lawyer, Brian Greenspan, told the court in December he and Ontario Crown prosecutors were trying to find dates to schedule a longer hearing.

Nygard has been in custody since December 2020, when he was arrested at a Winnipeg house on separate sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy charges in New York.

Prosecutors in the U.S. said in an indictment that he drugged and sexually assaulted “at least dozens of women and minor-aged female victims” over the course of 25 years.

An extradition proceeding is underway in that case. The Toronto charges were revealed the same day Nygard signed a consent form agreeing to bypass the court extradition process for the New York charges and move straight to ministerial review by Justice Minister David Lametti.

The federal justice department has said it will be up to the minister to decide whether Nygard’s extradition would await the outcome of the Canadian charges. Lametti’s decision on the matter is still pending.

Nygard tried unsuccessfully to get bail as part of the extradition process, but a judge said she was not satisfied that the bail plan laid out by his defence lawyers would ensure he would not contact witnesses or have others contact them.

He appealed and lost, and in September the Supreme Court of Canada denied his request to hear his case.

Though he’s facing charges in two other jurisdictions, he has never faced charges in Winnipeg — the city where he built his fashion empire and where multiple women have come forward with allegations against him.

The Winnipeg Police Service said in a statement to CBC’s The Fifth Estate last December that it referred eight cases to the Manitoba’s Justice Ministry, but prosecutors declined to lay charges.

Manitoba’s Justice Ministry and its prosecution office declined to do an interview or provide a statement about its reasons for deciding not to pursue the charges.

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