Peter Nygard has stepped down from his company amid allegations of sexual assault, a spokesperson has confirmed to Global News.
This comes after the FBI and New York City police raided the Times Square headquarters of Nygard’s fashion house Tuesday morning.
Ten women recently filed a civil lawsuit against Nygard, who started his fashion empire in Winnipeg.
They allege he promised them modelling opportunities but they ended up drugged and engaged in sex acts at “pamper parties” at his estate in the Bahamas.
“Recognizing the priority of the welfare of the thousands of Nygard employees, retail partners, loyal customers, vendors, suppliers, and business partners, Peter Nygard has made the decision to step down as Chairman of the Nygard Companies and will divest his ownership interest,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Nygard’s Winnipeg lawyer called the allegations a conspiracy orchestrated by Nygard’s enemies.
Nygard has been embroiled in several lawsuits with his neighbours over the past several years surrounding activities at his home in the Bahamas.
“My firm view is that they’re doing it because it’s part of a well-orchestrated media campaign by those involved in a conspiracy to bring Nygard down,” said his Winnipeg lawyer, Jay Prober.
The spokesperson said Nygard “has decided that his legal battles with (billionaire hedge fund manager) Louis Bacon will no longer be a distraction to the companies.”
They said the raids are a “direct result and in furtherance of the conspiracy” planned by Bacon.
“Nygard welcomes the federal investigation and expects his name to be cleared.”
None of the 10 women accusing Nygard in the filing have been named in the nearly 100-page suit. None of the allegations against Nygard have been proven in court.
A statement of defence has yet to be filed.
Nygard’s annual spring fashion show, to be held March 13 in Winnipeg, has been cancelled. Invited guests were sent emails informing them of the cancellation Tuesday.
After the lawsuit was filed, more than 100 people, including dozens of victims, have come forward with information, according to lawyers representing alleged victims.
“Since filing a rape and sex trafficking class action lawsuit last week … we have received information from over 100 witnesses, including dozens of victims, who have come forward with additional evidence relating to alleged rape and sexual abuse,” lawyers Greg Gutzler and Lisa Haba, who are representing the alleged victims in the suit, said on Feb. 18.
The lawsuit named 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.”
— with files from the Canadian Press