Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Tuesday indicted fashion mogul Peter Nygard on nine counts, including racketeering and sex-trafficking, that allegedly involved dozens of women, some of who were underage. He was arrested in the Canadian city of Winnipeg at the request of the US under the terms of the extradition treaty between the countries, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York confirmed.
Nygard, 79, was accused of a “decades-long pattern of criminal conduct” in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada, according to a release by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ).
Nygard is accused of using the influence of the Nygard Group, an association of corporate entities of which he is the head, “as well as its employees, funds and other resources” to coerce adult and minor-aged female victims into having sex with him. Nygard is also accused of recruiting female victims for the “sexual gratification of his friends and business associates.”
“Nygard frequently targeted women and minor-aged girls who came from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and/or who had a 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. Nygard forcibly sexually assaulted some of his victims,” the release states.
“Other victims were forcibly assaulted by Nygard’s associates or drugged to ensure their compliance with his sexual demands,” the release adds, also saying that Nygard provided illegal drugs and alcohol to the victims before sexual activity and “threatened and berated” women who did not agree to participate.
In February, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York Police raided Nygard’s New York offices after sex-trafficking allegations were made against him. At the time, the New York Times reported that the investigation against Nygard had been underway for at least five months after authorities interviewed at least four women who said that Nygard raped them in the Bahamas when they were teenagers.
The four women were also plaintiffs in a February lawsuit filed against Nygard in New York, which accuses him of sex trafficking and other misconduct.
In February, after his offices were raided, a spokesperson for Nygard announced that the fashion mogul would step down as chairman and divest ownership of Nygard International, “recognizing the priority of the welfare of the thousands of Nygard employees, retail partners, loyal customers, vendors, suppliers and business partners.”
Following the allegations made against him in February, many retailers, including Dillard’s, announced that they would no longer be carrying Nygard’s fashion line.