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Peter Nygard agrees to U.S. extradition; Toronto police announce sex assault charges

WINNIPEG — On the same day former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agreed to be extradited to the United States to face a charge of sex trafficking, police in Toronto announced their own charges.

WINNIPEG — On the same day former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agreed to be extradited to the United States to face a charge of sex trafficking, police in Toronto announced their own charges.

Police said Nygard, 80, is to be charged with six counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement. They said the pending charges relate to alleged assaults in the late 1980s and mid-2000s.

The charges were announced Friday as Nygard was in a Winnipeg court for an extradition hearing related to the U.S. charges.

"Mr. Nygard denies any allegations of criminal conduct," defence lawyer Brian Greenspan said outside the courthouse.

Earlier, Nygard appeared via videolink and consented to his extradition. 

He was arrested in Winnipeg last year under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the Southern District of New York.

Authorities there accuse Nygard of using his influence in the fashion industry to lure women and girls with the promise of modelling and other financial opportunities.

The extradition request from the U.S. details accounts from seven alleged victims who are expected to testify in a criminal trial in that country that their livelihoods and movements became dependent on having sex with Nygard.

Nygard has denied all allegations. He consented only to be extradited on the charge of sex trafficking.

His lawyers said Nygard is looking forward to addressing the allegations against him in the U.S.

“The only place you can be vindicated is in a trial,” said Greenspan.

The justice minister will have to choose whether Nygard faces charges in Canada first, or if a condition of the extradition is that he will be returned after the U.S. trial, Greenspan said.

Nygard's lawyers said they expect the extradition to be completed by the end of the year.

They said they will argue to the federal minister that the extradition should include assurances Nygard not be held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York. Greenspan said it has horrible conditions that could threaten the life of his client, whose health the lawyer said is already in decline.

Court has heard that Nygard is kept alone in a cell meant for three prisoners at Headingley Correction Centre outside Winnipeg. There is a television and phone in the cell and he has access to a diet for diabetics.

Nygard applied for bail in January, but it was denied by a judge who cited concerns that Nygard would contact witnesses if released. Nygard appealed that decision and was again denied release in March.

Justice Jennifer Pfuetzner of the Manitoba Court of Appeal said at that time that Nygard’s detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the justice system, given the enormity of the allegations. She said the allegations “paint a picture of criminal conduct that was planned, financed and executed on a staggering scale.”

The Supreme Court of Canada denied Nygard’s request to challenge the two lower court decisions.

He is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. involving 57 women with similar allegations.

Nygard founded his fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967. It grew from a partial stake in a women’s garment manufacturer to a brand name sold in stores around the world.

He stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.

Nygard International has since filed for bankruptcy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2021.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Nygard is facing sexual assault charges in New York.