ARRESTED: Peter Nygard to face federal sex trafficking charges

ARRESTED: Peter Nygard to face federal sex trafficking charges
Peter Nygard.

Fashion designer and longtime Lyford Cay homeowner arrested in Canada on Monday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Canadian fashion designer and longtime Lyford Cay homeowner Peter Nygard was arrested in Winnipeg, Canada on Monday, after federal prosecutors accused him of a more than two-decades-long string of criminal conduct involving racketeering, sex trafficking and other crimes against women and minors.

In a nine-count indictment unsealed yesterday related to alleged crimes stemming from The Bahamas, Canada, New York and elsewhere, Nygard has been charged with using fraud, force and coercion to cause “at least dozens” of adult and minor-aged girl to engage in commercial sex acts for his gratification and on occasion those of his personal friends and business associates.

In a statement, the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said the US requested Canada issue a provisional arrest warrant.

Nygard and his co-conspirators in the racketeering conspiracy used the façade of legitimacy created by his enterprise, Nygard Group, as well as the enterprise’s employees to “conceal their racketeering activity, including sex trafficking, interstate and international transport for purposes of engaging in prostitution and other illegal sexual activities and related offenses”.

It alleges that crime took place over the span of 25 years and Nygard and others known to him used various means and methods to solicit victims who were then “forcibly sexually assaulted, drugged and/or coerced into sexual contact with Nygard”.

These methods including the ruse of modeling, fashion jobs and career advancements to lure victims into “Nygard’s orbit and to keep them there”, using Nygard Group funds to pay for “pamper parties” known for extravagance and free food and luxury amenities, and recruitment methods through paid sexual partners referred to as girlfriends, some of whom were alleged victims of the Lyford Cay homeowner.

Nygard paid for various expenses for these women, ranging from immigration assistance, travel dental work, medical treatments, child support, and even abortions, according to court documents.

These payments and others were often “thinly disguised” as payroll or payments for professional contracts with the girlfriend, who were identified as models, personal assistants, or communications coordinators.

Communications coordinators, known as ComCor, and others recruited women and girls to attend parties, dinners and other events — all of whom were screened before being allowed onto the property to ensure they appealed to Nygard.

As part of this screening, photographers were taken of these “guests” and a register was maintained of personal information of all attendees, documenting, among other things, names, contact information, weight and physical measurements.

Nygard companies and employees were used to transport “girlfriends”, women and others via private plane, according to the indictment, which said the fashion designer kept travel documents and copies of passports of his girlfriends, including “adult victims’ passports and in at least one case, a copy of a minor victim’s passport”.

It is alleged that Nygard Group employees arranged accommodation for girlfriends, facilitated pamper parties and other events, to “recruit and abuse victims” and controlled access to and from the compound, including refusing to let women and girls leave without Nygard’s approval.

According to the indictment, Nygard used company funds to garner good publicity and to quash negative publicly related to allegations of rape and assault of women and girls.

It is further alleged that Nygard Group employees and funds were used to “intimidate, threaten, and corruptly persuade individuals who alleged that Nygard engaged in sexual assault and sex trafficking in the United States, [The] Bahamas, Canada and elsewhere, including by paying witnesses for false statements and affidavits; threatening witnesses with arrest, jail, prosecution”, and other methods to damage them or their reputations.

He targeted women and girls from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and who had a history of abuse through a range of promises and other coercive means such as constant surveillance, restrictions of movement, physical isolation and granting and withholding financial support.

In some instances, sex was forced and drugs were used to make victims, including underaged girls compliant with Nygard’s sexual demands.

His victims could be elevated to girlfriends, which would allow them monthly stipends or allowances rather than per sexual transaction.

Girlfriends were often taken to swingers clubs and coerced into having sex with others, or swapped with male friends and business associates, who would allegedly bring Nygard a “date for sex in exchange for access to one of his girlfriends.

It is alleged that Nygard engaged in a commercial sex act with an underage girl; from 2017 to about 2018, Nygard forced and coerced a woman to engage in a commercial sex act; transported for the purpose of prostitution; engaged in illegal sexual activity.

He will be required to forfeit interests in, securities of, claims against, properties, contractual rights and source of influence over, the enterprise Nygard Group, which Nygard operated and controlled and participated in.

The indictment is signed by Acting United States Attorney Audrey Strauss.