Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been indicted on nine counts of sex trafficking, racketeering and other related crimes after federal prosecutors said he used his powerful influence for decades to force and coerce women and underage girls into sex acts.
Nygard, 79, was taken into custody in Winnipeg on Monday by Canadian authorities after the United States issued a warrant for his arrest, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York.
Federal prosecutors allege that from 1995 to 2020, Nygard used his position as the founder of an international clothing design and manufacturing company to “recruit and maintain adult and minor-aged females” for his own “sexual gratification” and the “sexual gratification of his friends and business associates” by forcing, drugging or coercing the victims to have sex with him or others.
Officials said the allegations—which Nygard has denied through his attorney—involve “at least dozens of victims” in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas.
Authorities said Nygard often targeted victims who came from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or had a previous history of abuse.
“He controlled his victims through threats, false promises of modeling opportunities and other career advancement, financial support and by other coercive means, including constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation,” authorities said.
Prosecutors allege that Nygard maintained some of his victims as “girlfriends,” with whom he maintained personal and quasi-professional relationships. These women and underage girls were required to travel with and engage in sex acts “at his discretion” whether it was with him, each other or other men.
Nygard and others allegedly provided the women “illegal drugs and alcohol” to coerce them into the sexual activity or forcibly assaulted them if they refused.
“Nygard dictated the daily activities of ‘girlfriends’ and the details of their appearance,” prosecutors said, adding that they were not permitted to leave their location without his permission.
The women or girls were also often directed to “recruit” other victims for Nygard, prosecutors allege.
Federal authorities said Nygard used several strategies to find victims, including hosting lavish “Pamper Parties” at his properties in Marina del Rey, California and the Bahamas. At these parties, attendees would receive free food, drinks and spa services while Nygard allegedly trolled for new victims, according to the statement.
After he selected a girl or woman of his choice, Nygard often instructed his “girlfriend” or another employee to approach the woman about having sex with Nygard—sometimes paying the women cash for the sex acts. Prosecutors said he also “drugged” unwilling participants to force their compliance or used physical force or psychological pressure to gain their participation, according to the statement.
Authorities have also alleged that Nygard took his “girlfriends” to swingers clubs where he pressured or forced them to have sex with other men.
Prosecutors said Nygard often used other recruitment tools as well including paying for the women’s travel, abortions, plastic surgeries, child support or medical procedures, according to the indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
Prosecutors said Nygard paid his victims using Nygard Group funds, sometimes putting the women on payroll under the job title of “models” or “assistants.”
Nygard appeared earlier this week in a Winnipeg courtroom for his initial appearance, wearing a white face mask, gray sweatshirt and sweatpants, Reuters reports.
The 79-year-old is facing charges of racketeering; conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion; two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; transportation of a minor for the purpose of prostitution; two counts of transportation for the purpose of prostitution and transportation for the purpose of prostitution and illegal sexual activity, according to the indictment.
His attorney, Jay Prober, maintained his client’s innocence.
“Mr. Nygard vehemently denies all the allegations and expects to be vindicated in court,” Prober said, according to Reuters.
In February, Nygard stepped down from his post as chairman of Nygard International, People reports.
The fashion mogul is also facing a class-action civil suit in New York from 57 unnamed women, according to Reuters.
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