Dec. 15 (UPI) — Authorities in Canada have arrested fashion designer Peter Nygard on allegations he sexually assaulted dozens of people, including minors, over the course of decades.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said Tuesday that Nygard, 79, used his fashion empire’s influence to recruit women and minor girls for his and his friends’ “sexual gratification.” Prosecutors said the alleged crimes took place over a 25-year period in the Bahamas, Canada and the United States.
Officials said he used threats, false promises of modeling and other opportunities and financial support to target women and girls who had disadvantaged economic backgrounds. He also allegedly coerced victims through constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation.
Prosecutors said Nygard and his associates forcibly sexually assaulted some of the women and girls or drugged them to ensure their compliance.
Court documents said Nygard referred to some of the woman and girls as his “girlfriends” and required them to travel with him, engage in sexual activity with him and others, and recruit other women and girls to have sex with him.
Authorities took Nygard into custody Monday in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
He faces two counts each of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; and transportation for purpose of prostitution; and one count each of racketeering conspiracy; conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion; transportation of a minor for purpose of prostitution; and transportation for purpose of prostitution and illegal sexual activity.
The United States has requested Nygard’s extradition from Canada.
Earlier this year, several women accused Nygard of sexual assault and of maintaining a sex-trafficking ring. The FBI and New York Police Department raided his New York headquarters in February, prompting him to step down from his fashion company.