NEW YORK — Ten women filed a class-action lawsuit against Canadian clothing mogul Peter Nygard accusing him of sexual assault and sex trafficking.
Nygard allegedly lured young women to his mansion in the Bahamas under false pretences of modelling opportunities in order to sexually assault them, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The women who filed the lawsuit, which says they are not named out of concerns for their safety and privacy, are said to have been between the ages of 14 and 29 when the alleged incidents occurred.
Nygard’s lawyer, Jay Prober, denies the allegations.
“It’s a lawsuit which contains nothing but false allegations,” he said, adding “we will defend the claim vigorously.”
None of the claims has been proven in court and no criminal charges have been filed.
The lawsuit lists Nygard, who is chairman and founder of private fashion company Nygard International, as well as privately held Nygard Inc., Nygard International Partnerships, and Nygard Holdings Ltd. as defendants.
It alleges he and these companies “using interstate and foreign commerce, recruited, lured and enticed young, impressionable and often impoverished children and women, with cash payments and false promises of lucrative modeling opportunities to assault, rape, and sodomize them.”
The lawsuit accuses Nygard of drugging several of the women when they did not comply with his demands for sex.
The lawsuit also alleges that company resources were used to run the sex trafficking venture. The company did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
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Nygard, who was born to Finnish immigrants, is “the classic rags-to-riches story” and “the ultimate self-made man,” according to his biography on the company site.
He founded the company in 1967. He started his success by using his life savings and borrowing a further $8,000 to purchase a portion of a women’s garment manufacturer. He became the sole owner in a few years.
It now boasts more than 170 stores in North America, as well as space in more than 6,000 department stores around the world, according to Nygard’s website.
The lawsuit estimates his net worth at about US$900 million.
The plaintiffs are asking for a trial by jury and is seeking yet-to-be-determined damages.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 14, 2020.