Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard arrested on sex abuse charges
Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been arrested and charged over allegations he has sexually abused women and girls over the past 25 years.Key points:
- Canadian businessman Peter Nygard says the charges stem from a feud with his billionaire neighbour in the Bahamas
- HIs arrest on sex trafficking came after the FBI raided his Manhattan offices earlier this year
- Fifty-seven women, including 18 Canadians, have joined a lawsuit against Nygard
Nygard, 79, was detained after a court appearance on Tuesday, a day after being arrested by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States.
No date was set for a bail hearing, though he was due to return to court January 13.
His lawyer in Canada, Jay Prober, said his client denied all allegations and blamed a conspiracy caused by a feud with his billionaire neighbour in the Bahamas.
"That is Mr Nygard's contention. This all stems from a conspiracy from the hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon," Mr Prober said in a phone interview.
"He expects to be vindicated in court but the first order of business is to make a bail application for him considering his age of 79 and his medical issues.
"He's very susceptible to the worst consequences of COVID-19, which is really running rampant in our jails."
Mr Bacon could not be immediately reached for comment.Nygard allegedly lured women with opportunities in fashion industry
Mr Nygard's arrest on sex trafficking, racketeering and related charges comes in the wake of the FBI raiding his Manhattan offices earlier this year.
The raid happened soon after 10 women sued Mr Nygard, saying he enticed young and impoverished women to his Bahamas estate with cash and promises of modelling and fashion opportunities.
Several plaintiffs in the suit, filed in New York City, said they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard gave them alcohol or drugs and then raped them.
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Fifty-seven women, including 18 Canadians, have joined the lawsuit.
Authorities said Mr Nygard used the prestige of an international clothing design, manufacturing, and supply business he founded and headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, to persuade victims, sometimes with a history of being abused, to submit to his demands.
The indictment alleged that Mr Nygard and his co-conspirators, including Nygard Group employees, used force, fraud, and coercion to enlist the women and girls, who were sexually abused and assaulted by Mr Nygard and others.
It said Mr Nygard maintained personal and quasi-professional relationships with some victims, referring to them as "girlfriends" or "assistants" while requiring them to travel with him regularly and to engage in sexual activity at his direction with himself, with each other or with others.
It said he also directed them to recruit new women and girls to be sexually abused.
It alleged Mr Nygard abused some women and girls at his properties in Marina del Rey, California, and in the Bahamas, during "pamper parties".
He sometimes paid the victims up to several thousands of dollars, it said.
The indictment also alleged he also directed and pressured "girlfriends" to have sex with other men at clubs in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Winnipeg and "swapped" women with friends.'He has done so much damage,' accuser says
April Telek, a 47-year-old Canadian actress who alleges Mr Nygard raped her in Winnipeg when she was 20, accused him of being a "predator".
"The fact it is finally being acknowledged that he is a predator, and that he has done so much damage to so many for so long, and now he's going to have to be accountable, it's amazing," she said.
Ms Telek said Mr Nygard used money and intimidation to keep women from coming forward about the alleged abuse.
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The lawsuit alleges Nygard kept a database on a corporate server containing the names of thousands of potential victims.
Mr Nygard's accusers had their passports taken from them when they were flown into the Bahamas, the lawsuit alleges, adding the designer "expected a sex act before he was willing to consider releasing any person" from his estate.
"We are encouraged that a small measure of justice for Peter Nygard is finally developing," Greg G Gutzler, a lawyer for the women, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We are relieved that some measure of accountability is hopefully forthcoming, but we would be remiss if we did not state that this is something that should have been done decades ago."
A spokesman for Mr Nygard said earlier this year the 79-year-old was stepping down as chairman of Nygard companies and would divest his ownership interest.
Nygard International began in Winnipeg as a sportswear manufacturer. Its website says its retail division has more than 170 stores in North America.