Canadian fashion mogul facing U.S. sex trafficking charges appeals bail ruling | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking

WINNIPEG — A Canadian fashion leader facing charges of sex trafficking and racketeering in the United States is appealing a judge’s decision to keep him behind bars.

WINNIPEG — A Canadian fashion leader facing charges of sex trafficking and racketeering in the United States is appealing a judge’s decision to keep him behind bars.

The judge who denied Peter Nygard’s bail request last month cited concerns that the 79-year-old could contact witnesses if released.

“This is an almost 80-year-old man who has a number of risk factors in terms of his health,” Brian Greenspan, Nygard’s lawyer, said in court Thursday.

Federal lawyers have said that Nygard has the means to flee and the charges he faces in the U.S. are too serious for his release.

Nygard was arrested in December in Winnipeg under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the Southern District of New York.

A formal extradition request from the U.S. was received by Canadian authorities in February. It provides more details of allegations that Nygard used his influence in the fashion industry to lure women and girls with the promise of modelling and other financial opportunities. 

Documents provided to court from Allison Nichols, an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, detail the accounts of seven victims who are expected to testify in a criminal trial in that country.

There is a publication ban on any information that could identify victims or witnesses. 

The women explain how they met Nygard through different encounters at parties or through modelling opportunities. Some of the women talk about having their livelihood and their movement dependent on having sex with the fashion mogul. 

Some of the victims say sex was originally consensual, but that it developed into a situation where it was coerced through financial means or even physical force. 

They say Nygard would belittle them if they refused sex and restrict where they could go. 

The American prosecutors said text messages and emails support the allegations. 

Prosecutors said that, after a co-conspirator complained about finances, Nygard responded in an email that he’d received about $100,000 in travel and accommodations. 

“PEOPLE IN MY LIFE ALWAYS Benefit IF & when they provide real benefit — had you delivered a ‘NICE ANGEL’ — here of course would have been good benefit,” Nygard wrote, according to court documents. 

Prosecutors also said the emails detail the requirements for setting up pamper parties, which they allege Nygard used as recruiting opportunities. Court documents say Nygard told employees that beautiful women who were size eight or smaller were only acceptable to attend the parties.

The Minister of Justice directed the extradition to proceed based on corresponding Canadian trafficking charges earlier this month. 

Greenspan said his client denies all the allegations and poses no risk if released. He said pretrial incarceration should be a last resort. 

Defence documents filed with the Manitoba Court of Appeal say Justice Shawn Greenberg didn’t give enough consideration to Nygard’s lack of a criminal record and the risk to his health when she denied his release from jail.

They said too much onus was put on a bail letter provided by U.S. prosecutors.

The documents also say Greenberg was “unfairly critical of the release plan.”

That plan, as told to the court, involved an in-home security guard and 24-hour video surveillance to monitor Nygard if he were released.

Greenberg said in her decision that while Nygard could not have physically contacted people, the plan wouldn’t have stopped him from contacting them over the phone or through former employees.

Nygard’s lawyers provided an augmented plan they said would include monitoring of all computers and phones.

Nygard is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. involving 57 women with similar allegations.

He stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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