Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex-Trafficking Charges
Mr. Nygard was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities. A federal indictment in New York City accused him of recruiting dozens of women and teenage girls for sex.
Peter Nygard, the Canadian fashion executive, has been charged with sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other crimes that involved dozens of women and teenage girls as victims in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Tuesday.
Mr. Nygard, 79, used his company’s influence, its money and its employees to recruit adult and “minor-aged female victims” over a 25-year period for the sexual gratification of him and his associates, according to a nine-count federal indictment. He was arrested in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday at the request of the United States under an extradition treaty, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said. He is now being held in a Manitoba jail.
The indictment accused Mr. Nygard of targeting victims from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and, in some cases, with a history of abuse. Mr. Nygard sexually assaulted some, it said, while his associates assaulted or drugged others “to ensure their compliance with Nygard’s sexual demands.”
Jay Prober, the fashion mogul’s lawyer in Winnipeg, denied the charges against his client, saying he expected Mr. Nygard to be vindicated. His lawyer in New York, Elkan Abramowitz, declined to comment.
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As recently as two years ago, Mr. Nygard plastered his image on billboards around Winnipeg — wearing a tight shirt that revealed glistening biceps and flowing hair. In court in Winnipeg on Tuesday, he appeared weak and shaky, wearing a sweatshirt and his hair in a messy bun. Chains bound his wrists and ankles.
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He was ordered to be held pending further court proceedings. A bail hearing was scheduled for Jan. 13, but Mr. Prober said he planned to seek a hearing as early as next week. Although Canadian courts usually grant extradition to the United States, the process can take years.
In February, The New York Times detailed how a long, ugly feud between Mr. Nygard and his neighbor in the Bahamas led to a lawsuit accusing Mr. Nygard of sexually assaulting minors there. In the article, dozens of women and former employees described how alleged victims were lured to Mr. Nygard’s home.
The Nygard residence, located in the wealthy Lyford Cay community.
The fight between Mr. Nygard and his neighbor, Louis Bacon, a hedge fund billionaire, complicated matters. Two of the women who initially said Mr. Nygard raped them later recanted, saying they were paid to fabricate their claims.
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For years, Mr. Nygard blamed Mr. Bacon for any allegations against him. But The Times documented a pattern of complaints stretching back four decades, well before the feud, and showed how Mr. Nygard used his money and threats to silence his alleged victims.
The indictment features some of the same allegations as the lawsuit, which was filed in New York in February. More than 80 women have signed on as plaintiffs.
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Tamika Ferguson, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Mr. Nygard raped her in 2004 during a party at his home, when she was 16. She said she was overwhelmed after learning about the indictment.
“I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time,” she said on Tuesday.
ImageTamika Ferguson, whose face is not pictured because she doesn’t want to be recognized, said Mr. Nygard raped her when she was 16.
Tamika Ferguson, whose face is not pictured because she doesn’t want to be recognized, said Mr. Nygard raped her when she was 16.Credit…Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times
April Telek, 47, a Canadian actress, said she was raped and held against her will by Mr. Nygard in 1993, after going to his company’s Winnipeg warehouse for a modeling job. She is also part of the lawsuit and has given a statement to the Winnipeg police, but has not been contacted by American authorities.
“If he gets put away, that is where he belongs,” Ms. Telek said. “I don’t care if it’s my case or any of the other poor victims that he has traumatized over the past 40 years.”