Peter Nygard, one of Canada’s wealthiest businessmen and clothing manufacturers, is the target of a police investigation in the Bahamas involving allegations of sexual assault, CBC’s The Fifth Estate has learned.
The investigation involves four women who told the police they were sexually assaulted by Nygard when they were younger than 16, the age of consent in the Bahamas.
No charges have been laid in the investigation.
The four complainants are among the 10 women who on Thursday launched a civil class action against Nygard alleging he raped them.
That lawsuit was filed in New York and relates to rapes that allegedly took place between 2008 and 2015 involving nine women from the Bahamas and one from the U.S.
Three of the women were as young as 14 when the alleged rapes took place.
Those allegations have not been tested in court, and Nygard’s lawyer vigorously denies the claims, calling them “completely false [and] without foundation.”
Police won’t confirm details
Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Anthony Ferguson confirmed his officers are investigating allegations against Nygard, who operates a multi-million-dollar clothing empire based in Winnipeg, but he would not confirm they involved sexual assault.
“The matter is under active investigation, and the circumstance is one that I don’t want to make any further comment on,” he said.
“I will only confirm that we are investigating a reported matter against Peter Nygard, and it’s active.”
Nygard’s lawyer, Jay Prober, said 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.”
Alleged assaults occurred at parties in Nygard’s home
According to a lawyer in the Bahamas representing the four women, police have been told the alleged assaults took place during parties at Nygard’s home in the Bahamas, some of them as recently as 2015.
Doneth Cartwright says the girls “were invited to a party either by a friend or some of Nygard’s affiliates and at the party they in some cases were invited to [Nygard’s] room to discuss modelling contracts.”
“What they’re alleging is that … they were sexually assaulted or raped by Mr. Peter Nygard,” said Cartwright.
Cartwright’s legal bills are being paid by Nygard’s former neighbour, Louis Bacon, who is currently engaged in a bitter legal dispute with Nygard spanning more than a decade.
According to Cartwright, two additional women originally told the police they, too, had been sexually assaulted but have since said the assaults didn’t happen.
Cartwright continues to represent the remaining four complainants.
“They are resolute that they want justice and that Mr. Nygard should be stopped,” she said of her clients.
Accusations part of plan to damage reputation, Nygard alleges
Prober says the allegations are part of a larger conspiracy to destroy Nygard’s reputation.
In November, Nygard filed a 107-page civil lawsuit against Bacon and others, outlining the alleged attacks against him.
According to the lawsuit, Bacon has hired a team of lawyers and private investigators who are “engaging in a pattern of illicit and illegal conduct designed to improperly influence witnesses to make false statements, file false reports, abuse process, tortiously interfere with business relations and aid and abet the dissemination of false statements … all for the intentional purpose of damaging [Nygard].”
In particular, the lawsuit claims Bacon and his team have paid women to falsify allegations of sexual assault. Lawyers for Bacon did not respond to a request for comment.
Nygard’s lawsuit alleges Bacon and his team have also been in touch with U.S. law enforcement and a major U.S. newspaper.
It says they failed to convince the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to “work with them to complete their desired result of destroying [Nygard]” and are now attempting to “improperly influence” and provide false information to The New York Times.
The lawsuit claims The New York Times is preparing an investigative report that, if published, will cause damage to Nygard’s “business, goodwill and reputation” that “will likely be catastrophic.”
It’s all part of a “vicious and malicious conspiracy that’s been going on for about 10 years against Nygard by his enemies,” Prober said.
“We say it amounts to a criminal conspiracy.”
Nygard suing CBC over 2010 documentary
In 2010, The Fifth Estate broadcast an hour-long documentary about Nygard and his company that Nygard has said contained false allegations.
The documentary is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Three CBC employees are charged with criminal libel as part of a private prosecution launched by Nygard, which is also ongoing.
In his recent lawsuit against Bacon, filed in New York, Nygard also accuses the CBC of being part of the conspiracy, along with Bacon and The New York Times, to damage his reputation.
“[Bacon] facilitated with others in the development, production and airing of a CBC Fifth Estate program [in 2010],” the lawsuit alleges.
“This program broadcast inaccurate and false information about [Nygard] from witnesses who, at the direction and encouragement of [Bacon] with others, provided false statements.”
Prober says Nygard will move to have Thursday’s civil class action lawsuit involving the 10 rape allegations struck down, arguing it “has no foundation, that it’s scandalacious, that it’s vexatious and it doesn’t deserve the time of day in court.”