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Ontario judge ‘very reluctantly’ agrees to once again delay Peter Nygard’s sentencing on sex assaults

An Ontario judge “very reluctantly” agreed to postpone the sentencing of disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard on Monday in a case that has dragged on since the convicted sex offender was found guilty of four counts of sexual assault last fall.

In recent days, Nygard hired his third lawyer in the case, Winnipeg-based Gerri Wiebe, who requested the sentencing be pushed back for 30 to 60 days so she could get up to speed on her new client’s case.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Goldstein agreed to the request “very, very reluctantly,” he said, but expressed reservations given several delays in the high-profile case have occurred since Nygard was convicted of four counts of sexual assault on Nov. 12.

“I simply will not entertain any further applications for adjournment for any reason,” Goldstein said during the virtual proceedings.

“There will also be no adjournments relating to Mr. Nygard’s health unless he is in a coma, and even then, there better be a medical doctor prepared to come and give evidence in person that he is in a coma.”

Peter Nygard leaves court in Toronto on Nov. 12, 2023, after being found guilty of 4 counts of sexual assault.
Nygard leaves court in Toronto in November after being found guilty of four counts of sexual assault. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Nygard, 82, was accused of attacking five women between the late-1980s and 2005 in a private bedroom at his downtown Toronto office building.

A Toronto jury found him guilty on four counts. He was acquitted of one count of sexual assault and another of forcible confinement.

His sentencing hearing was scheduled for May 14, but was rescheduled.

His previous sentencing dates have been rescheduled in part because his two previous defence lawyers resigned, citing ethical concerns.

Lawyer Megan Savard resigned in June, about three months after stepping in following the resignation of Brian Greenspan in January.

Wiebe, his latest lawyer, told court it “wouldn’t be fair” to Nygard to proceed with sentencing on Monday, and she “couldn’t ethically prepare for this big task” by that point.

“I need to speak with him, review trial evidence and case laws,” she said. ”I can’t prepare properly [on short notice]. Peter Nygard is entitled to an adjournment.”

Justice Goldstein agreed to set new sentencing dates for July 24-25, which were the earliest days both Crown prosecutors on the case were available, he said.

A woman with shoulder-length blond hair and a black blazer smiles while looking into the camera.
Nygard has hired Winnipeg-based defence lawyer Gerri Wiebe. (Bueti Wasyliw Wiebe)

Nygard had also applied for the remainder of the proceedings to be done virtually, citing a decline in various health conditions he lives with.

He has been in custody since December 2020, when he was arrested at a Winnipeg home after he was charged with nine sex-related counts in New York.

A medical report provided to the court in early May suggested Nygard has lost about 30 pounds since his arrest and is down to 165 pounds, Goldstein said, pointing to that report.

Nygard now requires a wheelchair and spends 16 to 18 hours a day in bed. He continues to take medication for bladder, prostate and high blood pressure issues that he had before being arrested.

‘Serious problems with this credibility’

Goldestein acknowledged Nygard’s condition has declined, while also suggesting some of that could be related to aging. He also said it was possible Nygard could be exaggerating some of his symptoms as a delay tactic.

“I’m satisfied that Mr. Nygard has significant issues, although he may well be malingering in some respects,” the judge said.

“I have very serious problems with this credibility. No doubt he would be uncomfortable, but that is not the same as being life-threatening. His basic problem is that he is 82 years old, not that he has any particular health problem that could threaten his life if he came to court.”

This is a sketch of a person in court.
A court sketch shows Peter Nygard during his appearance via video link at a bail hearing in Toronto in 2022. (Pam Davies)

Nygard said it wasn’t fair to accuse him of trying to delay proceedings by changing lawyers.

“I am not responsible for these delays…. I have not fired them,” he said.

Nygard also said “I don’t understand the benefits I would have by delaying the procedures,” to which Goldstein replied, “I see a lot of benefits.”

Crown prosecutors are seeking a three- to five-year prison sentence on his conviction. With credit for time served, it’s possible he could be up for release by the time he is sentenced in this case.

Goldstein rejected Nygard’s request to do the upcoming sentencing virtually. He suggested Nygard will likely have to prepare to attend in-person in other upcoming trials and court proceedings in Winnipeg, Montreal and New York.

Nygard has been charged with forcible confinement and sexual assault in Montreal and is facing a sexual assault charge in Winnipeg.

He is expected to appear virtually for a court matter on Wednesday regarding the case in Winnipeg. No dates have been set for that trial.

Once his Canadian trials wrap, Nygard still faces extradition to the United States on the charges in New York. His lawyers have appealed the extradition order.

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