The Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was denied bail by a Manitoba judge on Friday, meaning he could spend years in jail while fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces charges of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other crimes that are said to have victimized dozens of women and teenage girls.
The 79-year-old multimillionaire is accused of using his company’s influence, money and employees to recruit adult and “minor-aged female victims” over a 25 years in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada for his sexual gratification and that of his associates, according to a nine-count federal indictment, filed by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan in December.
Mr. Nygard has been in jail in Winnipeg, Manitoba, since his arrest last Dec. 14.
“Keeping him in the jail in this time of Covid-19 is nothing short of a death sentence,” his lawyer Jay Prober told the court last month.
In her oral decision, Justice Shawn Greenberg said she had no confidence that Mr. Nygard would comply with a bail order to have no contact with witnesses in the suit against him.
And while she had taken into account the high rates of Covid-19 in prison, and Mr. Nygard’s failing health, Justice Greenberg said, the pandemic “is not a get out of jail free card.”
Until last year, Mr. Nygard was the head of a multinational women’s fashion company, Nygard International, that he owned privately and built from scratch. It was known mostly for selling leggings and tops to middle-age women through its own outlets and department stores, and at its peak, claimed 12,000 employees.
It made Mr. Nygard very rich. In 2014, Canadian Business magazine estimated his wealth at $750 million.
After federal authorities raided his home in Los Angeles and corporate headquarters in New York in February 2020, Mr. Nygard stepped down. His company then filed for bankruptcy in Canada and in the United States.
Mr. Nygard appeared in court via video link from jail, wearing a face mask and jail-issued gray blue shirt. He sat still, staring straight ahead and offering no physical reaction upon hearing the judge’s decision.
Kim Wheeler contributed reporting from Winnipeg, Manitoba.