Peter Nygard will stay behind bars for at least two more weeks as his bail hearing was moved to mid-January on Wednesday.
Nygard, who is 79, was arrested in December under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the southern District of New York, including racketeering and sex trafficking.
His lawyers, Jay Prober and Richard Wolson, pursued the bail hearing, saying Nygard is in poor health and that he is at particular risk for contracting COVID-19 in jail.
“In effect, to delay this matter is to play Russian roulette with this health,” said Wolson.
“It’s clear that he is a prime candidate to contract COVID. And if he were, the outcome would be a very serious one. According to the evidence, that would be before the court, COVID would likely kill him.”
According to an affidavit sworn by Nygard’s doctor, Dr. Harvey Lee, Nygard suffers from Type 2 Diabetes, possible sleep apnea, coronary disease, high blood pressure and has a pacemaker.
Read the affadavit here:
Nygard, who was not in handcuffs, appeared by video from Headingley Correctional Centre.
He appeared to be sitting in a small, grey room and started the hearing wearing a reusable blue mask. He later pulled that down, revealing a small moustache. His hair was pulled back into a bun.
Prober said Nygard wasn’t a flight risk and even offered to turn himself into Winnipeg police earlier in 2020.
According to court documents, Nygard’s employee, Steve Majer, offered up his two properties a surety for Nygard . In his affidavit, Major says he spent five years in jail for trafficking cocaine and that a chance meeting with Nygard changed his life.
“I met Peter Nygard playing poker,” he said, “and he gave me a second chance knowing my background.”
Read the affadavit here:
However, lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada said Nygard has a history of not showing up to court in the Bahamas and has the means to flee.
They requested more time to read through extradition materials and defence affidavits.
The special sitting will happen over two days, from Jan. 19-20.
Documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office allege Nygard frequently targeted women and underage girls from disadvantaged economic backgrounds with promises of modelling and other financial opportunities.
They allege the criminal conduct occurred over 25 years and involved dozens of women in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada, among other locations.
Nygard’s lawyer, Jay Prober, has said his client denies all the allegations.
The U.S. indictment alleges Nygard forcibly sexually assaulted many women and girls, some who were between 14 and 17 years old. It alleges others were forcibly assaulted by Nygard’s associates or drugged to ensure their
compliance with his sexual demands.
Nygard stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February.
The fashion mogul is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. with similar allegations involving 57 women, including 18 Canadians. It alleges Nygard used violence, intimidation, bribery and company employees to lure victims and avoid accountability for decades.
The lawsuit was put on pause in August. While reasons for the stay in the suit were sealed, the court docket said it resulted from a government motion that named three federal prosecutors _ an indication the criminal investigation was proceeding.
Two of Nygard’s sons filed a separate lawsuit against him months later claiming they were statutorily raped at his direction when they were teens. The sons allege Nygard arranged for a woman to have sex with them.
Nygard has said through his lawyer that he denies all the allegations in the lawsuits. He has blamed the accusations on a feud with his billionaire neighbour in the Bahamas.
Nygard came to Canada as a child from Finland with his parents in 1942. He founded his fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967 and it grew to become a brand name sold in stores around the world.
-With files from the Canadian Press