Ten unidentified women have filed a complaint against fashion executive Peter Nygård alleging rape and sexual assault.
Filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the complaint claims that Nygård used “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.
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“This is a civil class action for damages under the United States Federal sex-trafficking statute arising from Nygård’s rape and sexual assault of plaintiffs,” the filing stated.
Nygård is founder and chairman of his namesake company. Nygård International Partnership and Nygård Holdings Ltd. are listed as the defendants. The suit claims they were “instrumental in knowingly aiding, abetting, facilitating and participating in defendants’ decades-long sex-trafficking scheme.”
In addition, they allegedly did so “knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact that Nygård would use means of force, fraud, and/or coercion, or knowing that the person had not attained the age of 18 years, to force vulnerable children and women to engage in commercial sex acts in violation of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act.”
The incidents were alleged to have occurred in the U.S., the Bahamas and “elsewhere around the world.” According to the filing, “Nygård used his considerable influence in the fashion industry, his power through corruption of officials, and a network of company employees under his direction, to groom and entice underage girls and women. Defendants knew that Nygård would use means of alcohol, drugs, force, fraud, and/or other forms of coercion to engage in commercial sex acts with these children and women, and, in many cases, with knowledge that they were less than 18 years old. Defendants knowingly benefited from, and received value for, their participation in the venture, in which Nygård, with the Nygård company’s knowledge, or in reckless disregard of the fact, that Nygård would defraud, force, and/or coerce Jane Does Nos. 1-10 and other class members — many of whom were under the age of 18 — to engage in commercial sex acts, preventing his victims from exiting the Nygård Cay property in the Bahamas and properties in the United States, threatening victims with physical violence, and using physical force against them.”
The alleged claims include violations of the TVPA, participating in a venture of TVPA and conspiracy to commit violation of TVPA. The plaintiffs’ attorneys at DiCello Levitt Gutzler are seeking “a trial by jury on all claims so triable,” the complaint stated.
A spokesman for Peter Nygård issued this statement Thursday night, “This lawsuit was expected. It is exactly what Peter Nygård predicted would happen when he filed his RICO lawsuit in New York last year against land baron and hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon. This is just the latest in a 10-plus year string of attempts to try to destroy the reputation of a man through false statements. It is no different than the conspiracy exposed in 2010 through various legal actions filed by Peter Nygård, where it was shown that girls were bought off to make such false claims.”
Nygård and Bacon, who have neighboring properties in the Tony area of Lyford Cay, have been battling legally for years. Illegal dredging, stolen e-mails, improper use of nonprofit entities and false and damaging statements are among their numerous points of conflict.
The 99-page complaint alleges that Nygård owned all of the Nygård companies at the time the acts were said to have happened. The complaint states that, “At the heart of this action is Nygård’s use of the Nygård companies to facilitate and enable the rape and sexual assault of underage girls and women in the United States, the Bahamas, and elsewhere around the world.”
One of the Jane Does in the complaint alleged that when she was 14 and passing by a Nygård store in the Mall at Marathon in the Bahamas, a model asked her to come inside, handed her a pair of pants and told her to try them on in a changing room without any curtains or doors. Three workers allegedly started taking pictures of her as she began to change. Minutes later Nygård was said to have walked in, asked to take her measurements and rubbed her inner thighs and buttocks as he did so.
The highly graphic details about the alleged rapes of minors include claims that after allegedly being raped a second time, an unidentified 14-year-old was paid by Nygård to be a Nygård model and to recruit other young girls for him to sleep with. Nygård “would instruct her to offer young girls drugs,” the complaint stated.
The filing alleged that Nygård was able to engage in sex trafficking due partially to Bahamian culture, political corruption and his power in the Bahamas. It also claimed that sexual crimes are underreported in the Bahamas, due to weak laws that are poorly enforced.
Nygård allegedly “used fraud and deceit to knowingly lure and entice children and women” to his Nygård Cay property in the Bahamas “under the false pretense of attending ‘pamper’ parties and promising, among other things, interviews for lucrative modeling opportunities when, in fact, he had no intention of fulfilling his empty promises.”
The alleged pamper parties were said to be funded by the Nygård companies by transferring cash from the brand’s bank account in Canada, routing it through New York and depositing it in a Bahamian bank account that allegedly belonged to a Bahamian holding company, called Nygård Holdings. It went on to claim that the Nygård companies used corporate accounts to pay for drugs, alcohol, entertainment and food for the pamper parties, and also provided cash that Nygård “delivered to accomplices and victims to facilitate Nygård’s commercial sex acts with children and young women.”
The numerous allegations claim that Nygård used the Nygård companies’ boats, including, but not limited to, the “Yves Lauren” and “Lady Hilkka,” for months at a time, to transport drugs, liquor, and supplies for the pamper parties. The company’s “N-Force” jet was allegedly used to transport “victims from the Bahamas” to other locations including Nygård’s homes in California, Florida and New York.
The filing alleged that the corporate jet was used to smuggle women, drugs, liquor and other supplies into and out of various jurisdictions including the U.S. and the Bahamas. Upon arriving at Nygård Cay, victims were alleged to have been required to provide names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and the identities of the people who invited them. They also were allegedly required to pose for headshots and full-body photographs. That information was then allegedly filled out by Nygård employees, scanned and e-mailed to Nygård, so that he could review who was in attendance from his upstairs bedroom on the property. The information was allegedly compiled in a database that contained information and pictures of more than 7,500 underage girls dating back to 1987 — and held on a corporate server, according to the complaint.
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