Peter Nygård Seeks New Lawyer With Sentencing Near

With former fashion executive Peter Nygård’s sentencing two weeks away and following the resignation of his attorney last week, Nygård has had an amicus curiae, which translates to “friend of the court,” appointed.

Nygård, who was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in November, appeared for a court hearing Monday via video, due to a reported eye condition that has him bedridden. Tuning in from the infirmary of the Toronto South Detention Centre, Nygård was propped up in bed, wearing an orange prison-issued jumpsuit and a white visor with what appeared to be white sheets of papers over his ears. The 82-year-old spoke at length about how he was “very actively trying to find” a lawyer to work with the amicus seeking counsel.

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During last fall’s six-week trial in Toronto, Nygård had been accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct by five women during incidents spanning the 1980s through the mid-2000s. (One count of forcible confinement and the fifth charge of sexual assault were dropped.)

The Finnish-born Nygård built a multimillion-dollar namesake company in 1967. An early adapter to vertical manufacturing, celebrity affiliations and e-commerce, his affordable sportswear was once sold at department stores and freestanding Nygård stores.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Nygård’s now former attorney, Megan Savard, had asked to resign citing ethical concerns. In January, Nygård’s former attorney Brian Greenspan stepped down. Greenspan was back in the news last weekend as the lawyer for self-made Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach, who at 91 is facing sexual assault charges.

After a 2020 raid by officials from the FBI and the New York Police Department, key retailers dropped the label and Nygård stepped down as chairman of his namesake company. The company later filed Chapter 11.

Nygård is awaiting extradition to the U.S., where there is a federal indictment against him in the Southern District of New York for alleged sex trafficking, racketeering and other charges over a 25-year period. The fallen former millionaire had agreed to extradition in 2021 and then reversed course two years later.

Having lobbied during Wednesday’s hearing to appear at his sentencing, which is scheduled for June 25 and 27, Nygård said, “I am in such dire health that I cannot appear in person,” and said he would provide information in order to attend the sentencing via Zoom.

Judge Robert Goldstein advised Nygård that if he retains someone and “they show up on June 25 and say, ’I didn’t have enough time to prepare,’ my inclination will be to say, ‘That’s too bad. You’re either doing it now and we’re going ahead, or Mr. Nygård is representing himself.’”

Goldstein said, “Also, we’ll have to sort out whether you will be there in person or not. I know the Crown [the government] is opposing that. You should be very prepared to go ahead on the 25th. You may very well be representing yourself.”

The Crown’s attorney, Neville Golwalla, reiterated that.

After Goldstein said Nygård may “very well” be ordered to appear in person, Nygård said, “That’s the danger here, your honor. That could be fatal to me.”

The judge responded, “Well, I haven’t heard any evidence one way or the other that that would be fatal to you.”

Nygård claimed the evidence would be his personal affidavit. “Yeah, well, you’re not a doctor. I know it would be uncomfortable for you, but you were at the courthouse every single day at the trial,” the judge said. “I know it was uncomfortable for you. I’m not saying I’ve made up my mind. But you should be prepared for the possibility.”

Savard did not acknowledge media requests Monday, nor did Golwalla acknowledge one.

Shannon Moroney, a trauma therapist who is working with some of Nygård’s victims, said Monday via e-mail, “Survivors are on a complete roller coaster, navigating emotions [that] rise up to hope for a harsh sentence and feelings of validation and plummet to anger, frustration, voicelessness, hurt and despair as they continue to live in limbo and fear.”

Another hearing has been scheduled for Friday morning primarily to see if Nygård has found a new attorney.

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