Peter Nygard will step down from his company and divest his ownership stake, his spokesperson said Tuesday, amid revelations the Canadian fashion mogul is the target of a police investigation in the Bahamas involving allegations of sexual assault.
The announcement in a statement comes just hours after FBI investigators raided Nygard’s New York offices earlier in the day. An FBI spokesperson confirmed the search took place but would not provide any further details.
Ten women have filed a civil class-action lawsuit against Nygard, whose fashion company is based in Winnipeg, accusing the clothing manufacturer of raping them at his seaside mansion in the Bahamas and operating what they refer to as a “sex trafficking ring.”
Police in the Bahamas are now investigating allegations made by four women who are part of the lawsuit, who told police Nygard sexually assaulted them when they were younger than 16, the age of consent in the Bahamas.
The FBI would not confirm whether Tuesday morning’s raid was related to these allegations.
But Nygard’s lawyer said he believed the raid was a direct result of the allegations, which he called a “conspiracy” created by Nygard’s former neighbour, Louis Bacon, with whom Nygard has been in a legal feud for more than a decade.
“They’ll find no evidence of wrongdoing,” Jay Prober said.
However, he said he hasn’t read the FBI’s warrant yet and doesn’t know exactly what they were looking for.
Nygard ‘will divest his ownership interest’
In a statement Tuesday evening, spokesman Ken Frydman said Nygard would be stepping away from the company that bears his name.
The statement included no admissions of wrongdoing, but instead continued to point a finger at “Louis Bacon and his operatives.”
“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 statement reads.
“Peter Nygard has decided that his legal battles with Louis Bacon will no longer be a distraction to the [Nygard] companies.”
Lawsuit alleges assault, rape
The lawsuit filed in New York alleges Nygard “recruited, lured and enticed young, impressionable and often impoverished children and women, with cash payments and false promises of lucrative modelling opportunities to assault, rape and sodomize them.”
The alleged rapes happened between 2008 and 2015, and three of the women were 14 at the time, the lawsuit says.
No criminal charges have been laid and none of the allegations have been proven in court. A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
Prober has vigorously denied the allegations against his client, saying earlier this month the police investigation “will go nowhere, absolutely nowhere.”
“Anybody who makes a complaint like that, whether it’s true or not, the police are obligated to investigate it. The investigation will amount to nothing,” Prober said.
He said Nygard’s lawyers in New York are currently preparing a motion to dismiss the class-action lawsuit.