MANHATTAN (CN) — Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been indicted on federal racketeering and sex-trafficking charges, New York prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan announced the unsealing of a nine-count indictment Tuesday charging Nygard, 79, with racketeering, sex trafficking and related crimes arising out of a decades-long pattern of criminal sex trafficking involving dozens of victims in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada, among other locations.
Nygard was arrested Monday in Winnipeg after the United States requested Canada issue a provisional arrest warrant under the extradition treaty between the two countries.
The indictment alleges that since 1995, the silver-haired Canadian fashion executive used his companies’ funds, employees and status in the fashion industry to lure and recruit dozens of women and minor-aged victims for him and others to have sex with, frequently targeting women and girls who came from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or who had a history of abuse.
The indictment alleges Nygard and his co-conspirators, including Nygard Group employees, offered lucrative modeling and fashion industry opportunities to women and minor girls, who were then coerced to have sex on demand with Nygard and others at swinger parties and sex clubs.
Nygard hosted regular events under the company brand at his properties in Marina del Rey, Calif. and the Bahamas to recruit women and minors for sex, including so-called “Pamper Parties,” named for the free food, alcohol and spa services that he made available, the indictment alleges.
Some of the women recruited for Nygard’s sexual gratification were referred to as “girlfriends”, who were put on the payroll of Nygard Group entities as models, assistants or in other positions.
According to the indictment, some of Nygard’s assistants and so-called “girlfriends” were compensated for recruiting other women and minor girls in public places like Times Square and Los Angeles to be invited back to his residence or hotel room.
The government alleges Nygard controlled his victims through threats, false promises of modeling opportunities and other career advancement, financial support, along with other coercive means, including constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation.
Some of the victims were drugged to force their compliance with Nygard’s sexual demands, the indictment claims, and then paid off with Nygard’s company funds for their silence on the assaults.
The nine-count indictment was composed of three counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force and three counts of transportation for purpose of prostitution, and one count each of racketeering, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and transportation of a minor for purpose of prostitution.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.
In February, law enforcement agents on both coasts separately raided Nygard’s Manhattan headquarters and Los Angeles home as part of a federal investigation.
That same month, 10 Jane Doe plaintiffs filed a pseudonymous federal class action in the Southern District of New York against Nygard and two of his companies for alleged violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, claiming he drugged and sexually assaulted them and others while they were underage, including at events they described as the same alleged drug-fueled “Pamper Parties.”