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.
Nygard was arrested in December in Winnipeg under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the Southern District of New York.
Authorities there accuse Nygard of using his influence in the fashion industry to lure women and girls with the promise of modelling and other financial opportunities.
Nygard’s defence lawyers have argued his health is at risk behind bars.
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.
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 while in jail when she denied his release.
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