A lawyer whose firm filed a lawsuit alleging rape, sexual assault and human trafficking by fashion mogul Peter Nygard says since filing Thursday, her office has been contacted by numerous women with similar tales.
“In the last 24 hours alone since our filing, we’ve already had dozens of women contact our office as well as my partner DiCello, Levitt and Gutzler’s offices, stating that they, too, have similar claims of a similar nature,” said lawyer Lisa Haba of Haba Law in Florida.
On Thursday, her firm filed a civil class action lawsuit in a New York court alleging Nygard used his international connections and “recruited, lured and enticed young, impressionable and often impoverished children and women, with cash payments and false promises of lucrative modelling opportunities to assault, rape and sodomize them.”
The lawsuit names Nygard himself, who is the founder and chair of Nygard International Partnership and Nygard Holding Ltd. All three are named in the lawsuit as defendants, with the suit stating his companies were knowing participants in Nygard’s “decades-long sex trafficking scheme.”
“At the heart of this action is Nygard’s use of the Nygard Companies to facilitate and enable the rape and sexual assault of underaged girls and women in the United States, the Bahamas, and elsewhere around the world.”
None of the women accusing Nygard has been named in the nearly 100-page suit. None of the allegations against Nygard have been proven in court.
Nygard’s lawyer Jay Prober told 680 CJOB Friday that the lawsuit was expected but said the viciousness of it was stunning.
“We will be defending that class action vigorously … and I expect it to be dismissed.”
Prober said the complaints are all fabrications “which are paid for. They’re bought fabrications, by people involved in a criminal conspiracy against Nygard.”
Prober named hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon as being behind the conspiracy and said the pair have been feuding for a decade both in the Bahamas and in New York City.
“Anybody. Anybody can make false allegations and they can be as specific as all get out. That doesn’t mean they’re accurate or true, not at all.”
Read the full complaint:
“Our position is that the allegations stem from a very extensive, very involved and voluminous investigation that has commenced over the course of years,” countered Haba.
“There have been hundreds of individuals that have been interviewed. And the allegations that we have brought forth in this complaint not only are accurate, they have been verified and corroborated extensively.
“So we stand behind the claims that we have.”
Nygard has yet to be served the civil suit, said Prober, adding “we can’t sit by idly and not point out that it is false.”
Bacon and Nygard are neighbours in Lyford Cay, Bahamas, and have been in a long-standing dispute over each other’s activities on their properties for years. One of the complaints involves Nygard’s efforts to dredge the seafloor around his estate.
Global News has reached out to Bacon through his legal team for comment.
An arrest warrant was issued for Nygard in January of last year when he did not show up for a mandated court appearance on Jan. 28, 2019.
The Supreme Court of the Bahamas seized the estate in October 2018.
One of the women in the suit states she was 14 when she passed by one of Nygard’s stores in the Bahamas. She alleges a woman working there handed her a pair of pants and asked her to try them on in a public change room that lacked doors or a privacy curtain.
The workers then allegedly took pictures of the teen, and then Nygard walked in, the suit claims. He asked the girl if he could take her measurements, and then rubbed her inner thighs and buttocks while he did, according to the complaint.
Another complaint involves a then 14-year-old teen who claims she was raped twice by Nygard, paid by him to be a model and recruit others. Nygard “would instruct her to offer young girls drugs,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The victims that Nygard found most attractive and sexually desirable were forced through a combination of fraud, coercion, psychological force and manipulation, and physical force, or knowing that the victim had not attained the age of 18 years, to become full-time sex workers, which he referred to as his ‘girlfriends.'”
“They were forced to meet his every demand including, without limitation, “recruiting” new victims to attend his “pamper parties” so that Nygard could continue his pattern and practice of forcing children and women into commercial sex acts.”
Nygard has been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour before.
CBC TV’s The Fifth Estate published a documentary alleging inappropriate behaviour in 2010. In a rare private prosecution, Nygard sued for defamatory libel, and that case is still before the courts. Details about the alleged behaviour are now the subject of a publication ban, which came into effect in 2019.
Nygard denies the allegations in the CBC documentary.
Thom Fladung with Hennes Communications:
Communications expert Thom Fladung with Hennes Communications in Ohio said when companies are faced with this kind of lawsuit, it’s important to be upfront and honest.
“Tell the truth,” he said. “And don’t spin. People think we’re in the business of spinning but we’re not. If you lie, you’ll get caught.”
Companies also need to tell the truth as quickly as they can, said Fladung.
“You can’t communicate your way out of a crisis. You have to act your way out,” he said.
“But if you don’t communicate the right thing, you can do the right thing and still come out of it with your reputation damaged.”