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Lawyers say dozens of alleged victims, witnesses came forward against Nygard following class action lawsuit
Peter Nygard arrives at the 24th Night of 100 Stars Oscars Viewing Gala at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 2, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Invision - Annie I. Bang)
WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers.
More than 100 witnesses, including dozens of alleged victims, have come forward after a class action lawsuit was filed against Peter Nygard, according to the lawyers representing 10 women.
In the civil claim, the Canadian fashion mogul is accused of rape, sexual assault, and sexual trafficking. Nygard’s lawyer has said the allegations are completely false, and has vigorously denied the claims.
The lawsuit alleges Nygard lured young, impressionable women and teens, some as young as 14, with promises of cash and modelling opportunities. Their identities are not being revealed in the lawsuit due to the nature of the allegations.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, the lawyers representing the alleged victims, Greg Gutzler and Lisa Haba, said since filing their class action lawsuit less than a week ago, more than 100 witnesses, including dozens of alleged victims, have come forward.
The lawyers said they believe there could be more alleged victims, and encouraged people to contact them. Something Nygard’s Winnipeg lawyer Jay Prober said is unprofessional.
“There are a lot of people that see dollar signs here, and are jumping on the bandwagon, and if you look at the statement, at the end of the statement, the lawyers are soliciting business,” said Prober in a phone interview with CTV News. “It’s no wonder they’re saying they’re getting all of these calls.”
Prober also suggested the statement as a whole is highly unusual.
“Normally you don’t issue statements, as a lawyer, on matters that are before the courts,” said Prober. “Quite frankly in my view, it’s all part of an orchestrated media campaign by those involved in a conspiracy to bring Nygard down.”
The lawsuit was initially filed on Feb. 13 on behalf of 10 women. It alleges Nygard plied the women and girls with drugs and alcohol, before raping, sodomizing, or sexually assaulting them, often at “pamper parties” at his mansion in the Bahamas. It also alleges Nygard asked many of them to defecate on him in return for money, though the women and girls refused.
The lawsuit said after the alleged assaults, Nygard would offer the women and girls money, sometimes upwards of $5,000.
The lawsuit describes the alleged “pamper parties” as events held to both promote the Nygard Companies’ brand and facilitate sex acts, held in the Bahamas and California. It said women and girls were lured to his Nygard Cay property for these events under the false pretense of modelling opportunities. The lawsuit claims Nygard was allegedly able to engage in sex trafficking, in part, due to Bahamian culture, political corruption, and his power in the Bahamas.
The lawsuit alleges corporate funds were used to pay for drugs, alcohol, entertainment, and food for the parties, and also provided the cash Nygard allegedly gave to the women and girls. The parties were allegedly staffed by Nygard Company employees.
The alleged sexual assaults detailed in the lawsuit happened between 2003 and 2015. It also said several were coerced into labour trafficking, and were forced to work exceptionally long hours with little sleep for no additional money. The lawsuit also alleges some women and girls were forced to “recruit” others to come to the “pamper parties.”
Nygard has a net worth of approximately $900 million through various business entities he owns in the fashion industry according to the claim. Nygard International is a Canadian corporation, with administrative offices in Winnipeg. Its global headquarters are stationed in New York City.
The statement released by the alleged victims’ lawyers Tuesday also referenced the #MeToo movement.
“The #MeToo movement has been built and sustained by women who decided they could no longer remain silent, even in the face of pressure from wealthy and powerful men like Nygard, Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein,” read the statement.
Prober said that statement could lead to a defamation lawsuit, because these statements are public and were not filed in court.
“This statement, which refers to a reign of terror, and puts Nygard in the same sentence as Epstein and Weinstein are defamatory, and I think they’ve opened themselves up to a lawsuit, and I raised that with our New York lawyers.”
Prober previously said the allegations are false, and said they stem from a land dispute, in which he claims another man paid women to fabricate false sexual stories against Nygard. Prober said this is a “vicious and malicious conspiracy” against Nygard, and said he will be vindicated, exonerated, and will clear his name.
The class action lawsuit has not been certified.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.