A Canadian fashion designer was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering in connection with dozens of victims, including underaged girls he hosted at parties where he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted them, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Peter Nygard, 79, was arrested in Winnipeg Monday by Canadian authorities, according to a nine-count indictment released by the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.
He’s the founder of the Nygard Group, headquartered in Winnipeg and with a large office in Times Square.
A phone message for his lawyer Elkan Abramowitz was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Nygard is accused of using his company’s assets over the course of 25 years to recruit women and underaged girls for his “sexual gratification and the sexual gratification of his friends and business associates” through force, fraud and coercion, the Department of Justice said Tuesday. He sought women and girls from “disadvantaged economic backgrounds” and lured them with promises of modeling opportunities, financial support and other “coercive means” like surveillance and isolation, the DOJ said. Nygard and his associates are accused of sexual assault and drugging their victims — whom he called “girlfriends” and “assistants” — for compliance, the DOJ said.
Prosecutors say Nygard hosted “Pamper Parties” at his homes in Marina del Rey, California and his Nygard Cay estate in the Bahamas, where he is accused of drugging unwilling minors and sexually assaulting them.
He’s also accused of using company finances to pay his victims, including putting his victims on the payroll as models or assistants.
In January, ten women filed a federal lawsuit in New York accusing Nygard of sexual assault, and of keeping a database of pictures and information of more than 7,500 underage girls and women dating back to 1987 on his company’s corporate server, maintained by the Nygard Companies’ corporate IT department.
He is scheduled to appear in court in Winnipeg on January 13th.
The FBI is still interviewing victims in the case and ask that anyone with information about Nygard contact them at 1-800-CALL-FBI.