Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was arrested on charges alleging he sexually abused women and girls after luring them into his orbit with opportunities in fashion and modeling over the last 25 years.
The 79-year-old Nygard awaited an appearance in a Winnipeg courtroom after his Monday arrest by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States.
His lawyer in Winnipeg, Jay Prober, said his client denies all allegations and blames a conspiracy caused by a feud with his billionaire neighbor in the Bahamas.
“That is Mr. Nygard’s contention. This all stems from a conspiracy from the hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon,” Prober said in a phone interview. “He expects to be vindicated in court but the first order of business is to make a bail application for him considering his age of 79 and his medical issues. He’s very susceptible to the worst consequences of COVID-19 which is really running rampant in our jails.”
His arrest on sex trafficking charges came after U.S. federal authorities raided Nygard’s Manhattan offices earlier this year.
The raid came soon after 10 women sued Nygard, saying he enticed young and impoverished women to his Bahamas estate with cash and promises of modeling and fashion opportunities. Several plaintiffs in the suit, filed in New York City, said they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard gave them alcohol or drugs and then raped them.
Fifty-seven women, including 18 Canadians, are listed on the court documents. They alleged they were just 14 or 15 when Mr. Nygard trafficked them to “pamper parties” and plied them with drugs and alcohol in order to rape them.
A lawyer representing 57 women who have filed a lawsuit against Mr Nygard claiming sexual abuse said in a statement that “we are relieved that some degree of accountability is hopefully forthcoming, but we would be remiss if we did not state that this is something that should have been done decades ago”.
US authorities have charged him with racketeering and sex trafficking. He now faces being extradited to the US over the allegations.
Mr. Nygard has been the subject of an investigation by the child exploitation FBI task force and New York police since 2019. He stepped down as chairman of his company in February.
He was reportedly the subject of a previous FBI investigation for sex trafficking in 2015 and 2017.
The fashion mogul is estimated to be worth upwards of $700m (£538m).