A Canadian fashion mogul accused of sex trafficking women to his estate in the Bahamas has been denied bail before his extradition hearing to the U.S.
Peter Nygard has been in jail since his arrest Dec. 14, 2020, and is awaiting an extradition hearing to New York. Nygard has been arguing for bail since January. A date for the extradition hearing has not been set.
The Justice Department of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleges Nygard used company funds, employees and resources to “recruit, entice, transport, harbour and maintain adult and minor-aged female victims for Nygard’s sexual gratification and, on occasion, the gratification of Nygard’s personal friends and business associates.”
He faces eight counts of sex trafficking and one count of racketeering. He has denied all allegations against him, and none have been proven in court.
Over the past several weeks, Nygard’s lawyers argued that the 79-year-old faces numerous health challenges and that if he were to catch the novel coronavirus, he would likely die.
Federal lawyers, however, argued he was a flight risk and wanted him kept in custody.
Justice Shawn Greenberg, who presided over what ended up being a three-day hearing, said last week that she needed more time to make her decision.
That decision was rendered Friday, based only on what she heard in court during the hearing, said Greenberg.
Greenberg said she was worried about Nygard possibly tampering with witnesses on bail, and also pointed out the number of times he has failed to respond to court orders in the Bahamas.
While there would be a no-contact order between Nygard and witnesses and others, Greenberg said she has “no confidence” he would comply with that order.
“On behalf of the survivors of Nygard’s decades-long sex trafficking conspiracy, we thank the Court for recognizing the imminent danger that he and his myriad conspirators pose to the safety and well-being of society,” said Greg Gutzler, who represents 57 women in a separate class action suit against Nygard, after Nygard was denied bail on Friday.
“This is a first step in a belated path to justice for hundreds of innocent victims.”
Read the written decision here:
The lengthy hearing came after Greenberg said she had serious concerns with witness Greg Fenske, who offered himself as a surety for Nygard.
Fenske was grilled two weeks ago about who controls company assets and who paid for the property he’s offered to let Nygard stay in.
Greenberg said it appeared Fenske has nothing to lose, which defeats the purpose of a surety.
On Jan. 28, Nygard’s lawyers presented a new witness in William Dietterle, the president of BIL Security.
Dietterle said his company would provide around-the-clock monitoring and security for Nygard to prevent him from leaving.
Nygard co-counsel Richard Wolson said in the revised bail plan, they would delegate some of the responsibility as a surety from Fenske to BIL.
The $1-million house that Nygard purchased has been transferred to Fenske, Wolson said, so Fenske would now have “skin in the game.”
“This is as close to a perfect bail plan as you could have,” he said.
However, Crown lawyer Scott Farlinger said the new plan still wasn’t good enough, saying video monitoring doesn’t stop someone from leaving the grounds.
“That doesn’t prevent someone from jumping on an aircraft,” he said.
-With files from Brittany Greenslade