By AARON KATERSKY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Fashion mogul Peter Nygard was arrested Monday in Winnipeg on sex trafficking and racketeering charges brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
The nine-count indictment charges Nygard with “a decades long pattern of criminal conduct involving at least dozens of victims in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.
The arrest follows searches back in February of his company’s Times Square headquarters.
That same month women identified only as Jane Does Nos. 1-10 accused Nygard, 79, of grooming and enticing underage girls and women to his Bahamas estate – which has been featured on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” – where he would sexually assault them.
Seventy-four additional women have joined the class-action lawsuit accusing Nygard of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking. Some of the allegations date to the 1970s.
“The stories mirror each other over and over again,” said Lisa Haba, a Florida attorney who represents the women. “We have seen a pattern of prolific abuse of women and children over the course of the last 50 years.”
Haba said Nygard is “worse” than Jeffrey Epstein and she hailed the arrest.
“For my clients it gives them a moment to breathe and feel safe,” Haba told ABC News in an interview. “He has had so much wealth and so much political influence that nobody would touch him.”
Reached by ABC News, Nygard’s attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, declined to comment on the arrest and criminal charges.
Nygard and his co-conspirators, including Nygard Group employees, used force, fraud and coercion to cause women and minors to have sex with Nygard and others, according to the indictment.
He controlled his victims through threats, false promises of modeling opportunities and career advancement, financial support and other coercive means, including constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation, the indictment said.
Nygard was taken into custody in Winnipeg by Canadian authorities after the United States requested Canada issue a Provisional Arrest Warrant pursuant to the extradition treaty between the two countries.
“Per Justice Department policy, I cannot comment on matters of extradition,” said Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
Much of the alleged criminal conduct occurred at what were known as “Pamper Parties” at Nygard’s properties in California and the Bahamas, where the indictment said Nygard engaged in sexual activity with victims, either willingly or not, including minors who were drugged to force their compliance.
“Other victims had no advance warning of Nygard’s interest in sexual activity before being lured to a secluded area of the property where Nygard used physical force and/or psychological pressure to coerce sex,” prosecutors said.
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