79-year-old fashion mogul Peter Nygård has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking. Nygård was a close friend of Jeffrey Epstein, and has also been accused of victimizing dozens of people independently of his involvement with Epstein. Nygård reportedly had his own private island in the Bahamas where he groomed and abused many of his victims.
According to Manhattan prosecutor Audrey Strauss Nygård has been using his wealth and position in the fashion industry to “recruit and maintain” victims in the US, Canada and the Bahamas. Nygård allegedly had a criminal network similar to Epstein’s in which he exploited both underage girls and young women, then sold them off to his wealthy friends.
In many cases, Nygård and his friends drugged their victims. They also specifically targeted victims from disadvantaged backgrounds who were less difficult to isolate from their families or friends.
According to the indictment Nygård’s company hosted “Pamper Parties” at his properties in Marina del Rey in California and the Bahamas, where many of the victims were forced to engage in sexual activity with his wealthy associates.
He also waged a relentless intimidation campaign against any of the victims who went public with accusations against him, threatening to sue them, destroy their reputations, and even have them arrested.
Earlier this year, 10 women filed a lawsuit against Nygård, accusing him of luring them into his trafficking network by promising them money and modeling opportunities. Some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that they were only 14 or 15 years old when they were drugged and abused by Nygård.
The lawsuit also claims that the victims would have their passports taken once they were flown to the Bahamas, which would allow him to control when they left. He also allegedly expected a sex act from his victims before they were allowed to leave his estate and go anywhere.
Less than two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, Nygård’s offices in New York were raided by police.
Nygård has continued to deny all of the allegations against him even as evidence continues to mount.
A spokesman for Nygård said earlier this year he was stepping down as chairman of Nygård companies and would divest his ownership interest. His current net worth is estimated at $900 million.
Nygård has been accused of sexual assault numerous times throughout his career. His first major accusation came in 1980, when he was accused of raping an 18-year-old girl in Winnipeg. However, those charges were later dropped because the girl refused to testify. It was later claimed in a lawsuit that Nygård used funds from his companies to pay her off.
In 2005, the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti published an article about sex parties at Nygård’s mansion, and featured a short interview with actress Jessica Alba where she said she had to leave a party at the mansion because she was so uncomfortable with what was taking place. She mentioned the presence of young girls at the party as well. Nygård sued the parent company of the paper Alma Media for slander in Los Angeles but lost the case.
The 79-year old fashion mogul was arrested by RCMP in Manitoba on Monday night. Peter Nygard could face extradition to the United States, where he faces charges relating to sexual assault and racketeering. Mark Neufeld reports.
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