Fashion executive Peter Nygard was indicted on federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges Tuesday, months after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting 10 women.
The 79-year-old Nygard, the public face of the Nygard Group empire of clothing brands, was charged with nine counts of “racketeering, sex trafficking, and related crimes arising out of a decades-long pattern of criminal conduct involving at least dozens of victims in the United States, the Bahamas, and Canada, among other locations,” U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said Tuesday.
“Nygard frequently targeted women and minor-aged girls who came from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and/or who had a history of abuse,” the Attorney’s Office added.
“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. Nygard forcibly sexually assaulted some of his victims. Other victims were forcibly assaulted by Nygard’s associates or drugged to ensure their compliance with his sexual demands.”
Nygard, a native of Canada, was arrested in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Monday; he remains in a Winnipeg jail pending a January 13th bail hearing as he awaits extradition, which could take years, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Jay Prober, Nygard’s lawyer in Canada, denied the allegations against Nygard to the Times.
Although the allegations against Nygard stretch back decades — he was previously investigated by federal authorities in 2015 and 2017, with no charges filed — the accusations reached the public in February, when the New York Times reported on a lawsuit against Nygard filed by 10 women who said the fashion executive had sexually assaulted them.
Complicating the accusations, however, was Nygard’s long-simmering feud and lengthy legal battle with hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon, Nygard’s neighbor in the Bahamas; Nygard had long accused Bacon of paying women to manufacture the allegations against Nygard as part of their feud, which has included 25 lawsuits and millions in legal fees.
However, following the February article, the Department of Justice reopened their case against Nygard, ultimately resulting in Tuesday’s charges. The indictment against Nygard details how he “used various tools to recruit women and minors for sex,” including “pamper parties.”
“Nygard frequently used a ‘girlfriend’ or another employee to approach a chosen woman or girl to indicate his interest in sex,” the indictment states. “Nygard engaged in sexual activity with the victim on the premises and paid her cash. Some unwilling participants, including minors, were drugged to force their compliance with his sexual demands. Other victims had no advance warning of Nygard’s interest in sexual activity before being lured to a secluded area of the property where Nygard used physical force and/or psychological pressure to coerce sex.”
Nygard is also accused of pressuring “girlfriends” to attend sex and swingers clubs as well as engaging in “swaps” with his male friends and business associates. “Nygard did not inform ‘girlfriends’ in advance that he would trade them for sex and often used manipulation, intimidation, degradation, and threats to ensure compliance,” the indictment said.
Nygard allegedly used funds from his fashion group to pay for “commercial sex” with the “girlfriends” he had on the payroll. He also “used Nygard Group employees and funds to intimidate, threaten, and corruptly persuade individuals who alleged that he was engaged in sexual assault and sex trafficking, including by paying witnesses for false statements and affidavits, threatening witnesses with arrest, prosecution, and reputational harm, and attempting to cause reputational harm and discredit potential witnesses by disseminating false or embarrassing information.”
Following the February lawsuit against Nygard, he stepped down from the fashion group. Soon after, many of the fashion group’s major customers dropped the brands, and the Nygard Group filed for bankruptcy in March.