Manitoba

Peter Nygard to be extradited to U.S. to face charges, justice minister says

Peter Nygard will be extradited to the United States to face charges there after the criminal charges he's facing in Canada are resolved, federal Justice Minister David Lametti announced Tuesday.

Former fashion mogul accused of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy in New York

This sketch shows Peter Nygard as he appeared at the bail decision hearing on Jan. 19, via video from the Toronto South Detention Centre. Nygard has been in custody since 2020, when he was arrested in Winnipeg under the Extradition Act after being charged with nine sex-related counts in New York. (Pam Davies)

Peter Nygard will be extradited to the United States to face charges there after the criminal charges he's facing in Canada are resolved, federal Justice Minister David Lametti announced Tuesday. 

Nygard has been awaiting the minister's decision since last fall, when he agreed to bypass the court extradition process and move straight to ministerial review by the federal justice minister. 

However, the same day Nygard consented to the ministerial review of his extradition case, Toronto police arrested him on charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement related to incidents that allegedly happened in the city from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s.

"It is important that our Canadian legal process is completed so that all parties, including victims, have an opportunity to see justice served," Lametti said in a tweet.

Nygard, 80, is the former head of a multimillion-dollar clothing company. He has been in custody since December 2020, when he was arrested at a Winnipeg house under the Extradition Act after he was charged with nine sex-related counts in New York.

He was denied bail on the Toronto charges in January. The Toronto case is scheduled to return to court on March 30.

CBC News has reached out to Nygard's defence lawyers and is awaiting a response.

Nygard has denied all the allegations against him and none of the charges have been proven in court. 

Brian Greenspan, Nygard's lawyer, said last fall that although his client agreed to move ahead with the extradition process, he maintains his innocence.

Extradition likely years away

If Nygard is convicted and sentenced to time in custody in Canada, he would still be sent to the United States to go through the trial process there before serving his time in Canada, said Gary Botting, a Vancouver-based extradition lawyer who has been following the Nygard case. 

"That's what the minister has decided: He's decided that there's enough angst among the alleged victims here in Canada that it should be dealt with here first and then sent to the [United States] rather than the other way around," Botting said.

If Nygard is found guilty of the charges in both Canada and the United States and sentenced to prison, he would serve his time in Canada first, then serve his sentence in the United States, Botting says. 

Nygard could also appeal the justice minister's decision, or the minister could change his mind about surrendering Nygard, Botting says. 

The former fashion mogul is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in New York involving a large group of women who allege he sexually assaulted them. In some cases, the allegations go back as far as 1977.

That lawsuit was put on hold in August 2020 by the U.S. Department of Justice as they finish the criminal prosecution. 

Tuesday's decision is recognition of the international nature of the allegations against Nygard and the importance of all survivors getting justice, says Greg Gutzler, one of the lawyers representing the women involved in the class action lawsuit. 

"The truth will continue to come out and Nygard and his conspirators will be held accountable."

Mixed emotions for survivors

Shannon Moroney, a Toronto-based therapist who supports dozens of Nygard survivors in her practice, says the decision has brought up mixed emotions for the survivors she works with, some of whom are in Canada while others live in the United States and other countries. 

While survivors in Canada are pleased with the decision, it means those outside the country will have to wait longer to see Nygard face trial, she says. 

"I will say that survivors as a group as a whole, the thing that is most wanted is for Peter Nygard to face charges somewhere and have to answer for himself and face these allegations," she said. 

She says the American survivors she works with now have questions about what the decision means for them, while the Canadian survivors are feeling anxious about the outcome of the Toronto trial. 

"If we put ourselves in the shoes of survivors and their families who have waited for this for so long or who have only recently been able to come forward, there's a lot of emotions to expect," she said. 

"But overall, it's a good thing that he will face trial. It's a good thing."

Kai Bickle renounced his father and inheritance in October 2020, two months before Nygard's arrest, and took his mother's name to honour her.

Canada doesn't have a racketeering charge, and Nygard's lawyers are arguing that he shouldn't have to face this charge in the U.S. because he was arrested in Canada. 

Bickle disagrees.

A racketeering charge laid against him would include alleged co-conspirators, Bickle says.

"So whether or not he is in Toronto or in [the] U.S. first doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is, is he is going to have to face all of the charges," he said. "Specifically, if I had to pick one? The racketeering charge — that is very, very important that he has to go through that process on the racketeering side."

With files from Karen Pauls

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