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Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex Trafficking Charges

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Canadian fashion executive Peter Nygard has been charged with a nine-count indictment including racketeering, sex trafficking, and related crimes arising from a decades-long pattern of criminal conduct involving at least dozens of victims in multiple countries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Canadian authorities took 79-year-old Nygard into custody Monday in Winnipeg after the U.S. requested its neighbor to the north issue a Provisional Arrest Warrant pursuant to the extradition treaty between the two countries. The alleged crimes were committed in the United States, the Bahamas, Canada and other locations.

The unsealed indictment states that during a 25-year period from around 1995 to 2020, Nygard used his company Nygard Group’s influence as well as employees, friends and other resources to “recruit and maintain adult and minor-aged female victims for Nygard’s sexual gratification and the sexual gratification of his friends and business associates.”

Nygard and his co-conspirators, including some of his company’s employees used “force, fraud and coercion to cause women and minors to have sex with Nygard and others.”

Women and minor-aged girls from disadvantage economic backgrounds or who had a history of abuse were the primary target of the scheme. Nygard reportedly referred to his victims as “girlfriends” or “assistants” and required them to travel with him regularly, engage in sexual activity at his direction and to recruit new women and minors.

Nygard and associates are accused of sexually assaulting some victims who did not comply with their demands as well as drugging them to ensure their compliance with his sexual demands. Other victims had no advance warning of Nygard’s interest in sexual activity before being lured to a secluded area of the property where he used physical force and psychological pressure to coerce sex, according to the indictment.

Nygard also engaged in “swaps” with male friends and business associates, who allegedly would bring a “date” to trade in exchange for access with one of his unknowing victims.

The indictment states that Nygard controlled his victims through threats, false promises of modeling opportunities and other career advancement, financial support, and by other coercive means, including constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation. Nygard Group became a façade for the illegal activity. His “girlfriends” were kept on the Nygard Group payroll as “models,” “assistants” or in other roles. Company money funded “Pamper Parties,” during which Nygard and co-conspirators would recruit and screen potential victims.

Additionally, funds were used to pay witnesses for false statements and affidavits. Others witnesses were threatened with arrest, prosecution, and reputational harm, and attempts to cause reputational harm and discredit potential witnesses by disseminating false or embarrassing information.

CNN reported that Nygard is awaiting bail and extradition proceedings. The Department of Justice is asking for anyone who believes they were a victim of sexual abuse by Nygard to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

The arrest follows months of salacious headlines and accusations for Nygard, who stepped down from his company in February after the FBI raided his Manhattan quarters over sexual assault allegations. The company filed for bankruptcy in mid-March in both the U.S. and Canada.

In June, Hilco Streambank, an intellectual property advisory firm specializing in the valuation and sale of intangible assets, set out to sell the intellectual property assets of the Nygard International Partnership, including the trademarks associated with the Alia, TanJay and Nygard brands.

In February, 10 women filed a civil class-action lawsuit that echoes several of the charges. The lawsuit accuses the millionaire of raping them at his estate in the Bahamas and operating what they refer to as a “sex trafficking ring” between 2008 and 2015. In many cases, the alleged victims were under 18 years old. An additional 36 women have been added to a lawsuit.

New lawsuits are shedding light on Nygard’s co-conspirators.

In a separate lawsuit filed this month in Florida, an unnamed woman claims Nygard’s “top girlfriend” and Instagram model Suelyn Medeiros coerced her in 2010 to the fashion executive’s Bahamian estate with the intention of trafficking her. At the time, the woman was 18 years old.

The lawsuit states that the woman was unable to leave the compound, which was surrounded by barbed wire and a gated guard, without Nygard’s permission. After the woman refused to have sex with Nygard, Mederios reportedly abandoned her, leaving her alone at the compound with Nygard, who she claims raped her. The next morning, Nygard handed the woman $500 in cash, according to the lawsuit.

For her services to Nygard, the suit claims Medieros was compensated with money, gifts, plastic surgery and more high-price luxury items.

In November, another unnamed woman filed a separate lawsuit against Jonathan Baram and his company Warren & Baram Management LLC, a talent agency group that specializes in the representation of Latina and African American female talent, according to his LinkedIn profile. The lawsuit also names Medeiros as one of Nygard’s “sex-workers.”

The complaint states that Baram and his company “were instrumental in knowingly aiding, abetting, facilitating, conspiring, and participating in the sex trafficking venture of Nygard” and lured the Canadian woman, who at the time was 17 years old, to engage in commercial sex acts with Nygard under the false pretense that he could help her with her career.

The woman claims Baram waited outside Nygard’s New York City apartment where he knew that Nygard would sodomize and rape her. Afterwards, she claims Baram brought her to his apartment and sexually battered her.

The plaintiff is requesting a trial by jury.

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