Manitoba

Law Society charges Jay Prober over public comments he made about Peter Nygard's alleged victims

The Law Society of Manitoba has filed two charges of professional misconduct against Winnipeg lawyer Jay Prober after nearly a year-long investigation.

KC Allan filed complaint last October after Prober called Nygard's accusers liars

Winnipeg lawyer Jay Prober faces two charges of professional misconduct by the Law Society of Manitoba for comments he made about women accusing his client, Peter Nygard, of sexual assault. (CBC)

The Law Society of Manitoba has authorized two charges of professional misconduct against Winnipeg lawyer Jay Prober for comments he made in the media about women who accused his client, Peter Nygard, of sexual assault.

Prober has previously said in the media that women who accused Nygard of sexual assault were liars who were "on the money train."

"Not only did Jay Prober call 100-plus women and children victim liars, he called us paid liars, which means he basically called us whores," said KC Allan, who filed a complaint with the law society last October.

Allan is a former model who grew up in Winnipeg and now lives in the U.S. She says in 1979, when she was 17 years old, Nygard raped her. They met at a nightclub and he offered her a ride home, but stopped at his Winnipeg warehouse on the way. 

Allan says the comments Prober made are no better than what Nygard did to the alleged victims.

WATCH | Law Society charges Jay Prober over public comments:

Law Society charges Jay Prober over public comments he made about Peter Nygard's alleged victims

12 months ago
Duration 2:17
The Law Society of Manitoba has authorized two charges of professional misconduct against Winnipeg lawyer Jay Prober for comments he made in the media about women who accused his client, Peter Nygard, of sexual assault.

"[Prober's] crime is on par with Nygard's in my opinion. What Nygard did, he did out of depravity and lack of respect for human life. What Prober did he did for money, for his fees. Now which is the greater evil?" Allan said in an interview with CBC News.

Allan is "elated" Prober has been charged with breaching the law society's code of conduct, but she's also angry that she had to go through the complaints process in the first place.

"It gutted me to write the formal complaint," Allan said. "To put into language, written language what had been done to me and the other victims was excruciating."

She said having to read Prober's rebuttal to her complaint made it even worse.

"It actually re-victimized me. And then and by proxy, it re-victimized the other women he had been saying it about. So I feel vindicated by this news," she said.

At the time, Prober said the comments were not about KC Allan.

"I am truly sorry that she felt that the comments I made were related to her. They were not and for that I sincerely and publicly apologize," Prober said in a written apology to Allan, that she shared with CBC News this past January.

KC Allan speaks out

2 years ago
Duration 0:36
KC Allan says Nygard raped her in 1979 when she was 17.

"Why, in fact, does the Manitoba Law Society have to wait for a complaint to censor their own, especially when that person has been, you know, really running their mouth publicly?" she asked.

In an email to CBC, Prober said, "As the matter is pending, I have decided it would not be politic to make any comments at this stage — even though I would like to."

Prober comments

Prober's comments were made to the Winnipeg Free Press and CBC News in 2020 reacting to a class action lawsuit filed against his client Nygard in New York. Prober claimed the allegations were fabricated in a bid to destroy Nygard's reputation.

In February 2020, Prober told the Free Press, "a lot of people see dollar signs [and they're] jumping on the bandwagon."

Ten women initially came forward in the lawsuit, but by mid April that number rose to 46. At that time, Prober told the newspaper, "As I predicted before, more women are jumping on what they perceived to be the money train, the gravy train. They see this as a cash cow. I believe that explains the rather ludicrous number of additional plaintiffs."

Then in June 2020, an additional 11 women added their names to the civil claim, including KC Allan, bringing the total to 57. In an email to The Fifth Estate, Prober told CBC News, "They are more of the same by women jumping on the perceived money train who are likely to have been paid to make these fabricated accusations."

Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman was appalled when he read Prober's comments. In June 2020, he filed a professional misconduct complaint with the Law Society of Manitoba, but was dismissed because he didn't have a connection to the case. He appealed the decision and eventually won. 

In the meantime, Allan had heard about Warman's case and decided to step up and file a complaint of her own.

"There's just no way that a sexual assault complainant should have been put through this process having to bring forward these allegations when the comments were openly reported in both the Winnipeg Free Press and CBC News and was there for everyone to see," said Warman.

He says that is the worst part of this entire ordeal.

"You're going to force that woman to step forward and file a complaint just to get Nygard's lawyer to stop engaging in these kinds of comments against her. That really diminishes the reputation of the profession," he said.

A spokesperson for the law society stressed Prober has not been found guilty and that these are just charges.

"This matter will now go through our discipline process, where Mr. Prober will have an opportunity to respond to the charges," said Deirdre O'Reilly, communications officer for the Law Society of Manitoba in an email to CBC News. 

"If he pleads not guilty, then a discipline hearing will be set, evidence will be called and a discipline panel will determine the outcome. Ultimately, the reasons for the decisions of the discipline panel will be published on our website," the email said.

Allan worries Prober will decide to retire instead of going through the process and then the charges will go away. 

"I really think it's time we change the culture in which the victims of rape are treated," said Allan.

"It's important to remember that some of these victims in the Bahamas are children and they're certainly not capable of writing letters to the Manitoba Law Society."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caroline Barghout

Investigative Reporter, CBC Manitoba I-Team

Caroline began her career co-hosting an internet radio talk show in Toronto and then worked at various stations in Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto before landing in Winnipeg in 2007. Since joining CBC Manitoba as a reporter in 2013, she has won an award for her work on crowded jails and her investigation into Tina Fontaine's death led to changes in the child welfare system. Email: caroline.barghout@cbc.ca

now