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More women allege sexual assault in lawsuit against fashion mogul Peter Nygard

Dozens more women, including 18 Canadians, have added their names to a class-action lawsuit alleging rape and sexual assault by fashion mogul Peter Nygard.

Dozens more women, including 18 Canadians, have added their names to a class-action lawsuit alleging rape and sexual assault by fashion mogul Peter Nygard.

"The facts are coming out and more and more people feel empowered to tell their truth," Greg Gutzler, one of the lawyers representing the women, said in a news release Wednesday.

Thirty-six women — some from Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal — have been included in the lawsuit in an amendment filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The original lawsuit against Nygard was filed in February and included allegations from 10 women accusing him of enticing them to his estate in the Bahamas. Several allege they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard raped them.

Soon after, FBI and police in New York City raided his office there and Nygard stepped down as chairman of his company.

Nygard, once one of the richest people in Canada, started the company more than 50 years ago in Winnipeg, where it is still headquartered.

His spokesman Ken Frydman said the accusations in the lawsuit are baseless and Nygard vehemently denies them. Frydman said they mark the latest chapter in a feud with Nygard's neighbour in the Bahamas, Louis Bacon.

"Peter Nygard looks forward to exposing the details of the billionaire-backed conspiracy Louis Bacon has orchestrated for years," Frydman said in an email.

The amended complaint alleges that a series of Nygard corporate entities and executives financed, facilitated and covered up decades of abuse. It says they "knowingly and continuously conspired with Nygard to enable, act as a front, and conceal Nygard's criminal activity."

"Nygard was permitted and enabled to traffic, rape, and abuse others in plain sight for years," co-counsel Lisa Haba said in the news release. "That lack of accountability ends now, and governments can no longer turn a blind eye to human trafficking."

The lawsuit alleges the women, whose names have been withheld, have strikingly similar stories about being lured to Nygard's offices and properties with false promises of modelling and other career opportunities. They tell graphic accounts of being held against their will and forced into sex.

One Canadian woman alleges that in 2007, when she was 17, she went to New York City to meet her modelling manager, who in turn took her to Nygard's apartment. She was encouraged to drink alcohol spiked with drugs, the lawsuit alleges, before she passed out and woke up to find Nygard raping her.

Another woman alleges that in 1993, when she was 20, she was flown to Winnipeg to model. Instead, the lawsuit claims, she was held against her will for three days and raped multiple times. The lawsuit says the woman didn't report the attack because Nygard told her he "owned" the police.

Another woman alleges that she went to Nygard's Toronto office to model clothing in 1992. But the lawsuit alleges that during a tour with Nygard, she was taken to a dark room with a bed and raped.

In another allegation, a woman alleges she was 14 when she performed oral sex multiple times on Nygard in his car in Winnipeg. The lawsuit says she was lured with false promises of trips to California and glamorous parties.

The women are asking for a trial by jury and are seeking yet-to-be determined damages.

The lawsuit says Nygard has an estimated net worth of about $900 million.

Nygard, who came to Canada as a child from Finland, invested in a Winnipeg clothing company in 1967. A few years later, he owned the entire thing and created the Tan Jay brand. The Alia, Alia Sport, Nygard Collection and Bianca Nygard brands followed and became popular in department stores across North America.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version said Frydman is a company spokesman.

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