Accused Nygard 'co-conspirators' deny enabling their former boss

Two longtime former employees accused of being among former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s “co-conspirators” are denying allegations against them.

2 former longtime employees of Canadian fashion mogul call allegations ‘appalling’ and ‘hurtful’

Peter Nygard is in custody in Manitoba on an extradition warrant, facing multiple charges in the U.S. for sex trafficking and racketeering. (Jonathan Becker/Contour by Getty Images)

Two longtime former employees accused of being among Peter Nygard's "co-conspirators" are denying allegations against them.

Angela Dyborn, who is also Nygard's niece, and Tiina Tulikorpi, a Toronto-based senior executive and friend of the family, have both been named in lawsuits involving the former Canadian fashion mogul and are accused of enabling him in his alleged sex-trafficking scheme. 

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"How can people say that about me?" Tulikorpi asked in an interview with CBC. "That's very hurtful for people to say that."

"That's appalling and ridiculous," said Dyborn.

The names of both women, who are identified as "co-conspirators" in the lawsuits, are also contained in a grand jury subpoena, issued in New York in August 2020, ordering the company to turn over emails from a small list of former executives.

Their interviews come as part of an investigation into Nygard by the CBC podcast, Evil By Design, which launches its eighth and final episode Tuesday.

Angela Dyborn, left, is described in a lawsuit as a 'key cog in [Nygard’s] vast sex-trafficking network' while she was in charge of operating his home in Los Angeles. (Peter Nygard/YouTube)

Nygard is in custody in Manitoba on an extradition warrant, facing multiple charges in the U.S. for sex-trafficking and racketeering. More than 100 women have come forward to lawyers suing Nygard, accusing the former Canadian fashion mogul of rape and sexual assault. 

Nygard denies the allegations, saying the women are lying and are part of a vast criminal conspiracy to destroy his reputation.

'Facilitated and enabled' trafficking of a minor

Dyborn is described in one lawsuit as a "key cog in [Nygard's] vast sex-trafficking network" while she was in charge of operating his home in Los Angeles.

According to the civil suit, filed in California in November 2020, Dyborn personally lured victims for Nygard to rape.

"For decades, defendant Angela Dyborn has conspired with Nygard, her uncle and countless others, by knowingly and actively recruiting young women for him to rape as part of his sweeping international sex-trafficking venture," says the lawsuit, which hasn't been tested in court.

On one occasion, the lawsuit says, Dyborn "facilitated and enabled" the trafficking of a minor by making arrangements for her to travel with Nygard, who then raped her.

April Telek, left, and Dyborn, right, at a barbecue in west Vancouver in 1991. Telek filed a lawsuit against Dyborn, a niece of Nygard, in November 2020. Telek alleges Dyborn played a role in her rape by the former fashion executive in the 1993. (Submitted by April Telek)

The lawsuit also claims Dyborn paid victims "hush money" and transported them to get abortions and medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

"Of course I deny that," Dyborn said. "All of it is hurtful and untrue.... I'm not even sure what the purpose of it is. It's not fair."

The lawsuit was filed in California on behalf of Vancouver actor April Telek. She was one of the first Canadian women to come forward to say she was raped by Nygard.

The lawsuit says Telek and Dyborn were friends in 1993, when Dyborn helped arrange for her to travel to Winnipeg for a modelling job with her uncle. Telek says Dyborn picked her up at the airport and drove her to meet Nygard, where she says he drugged her, held her captive and repeatedly raped her.

'I watched the tape; you didn't fight that hard'

"I have always felt like [Dyborn] set me up," Telek said in an interview. 

"It would be entirely wrong for her to walk away free and clear. She needs to be held responsible for her part in this."

Telek is pictured outside her home in North Vancouver on June 9, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The lawsuit says that Dyborn "admitted" to Telek she saw a video of the assault, telling her: "I watched the tape; you didn't fight that hard."

"I'm going to start crying," Dyborn said in response. "Obviously that's not true. Obviously. That's appalling and ridiculous."

Dyborn has not yet filed a defence in that lawsuit, but in an earlier sworn statement, provided to The Fifth Estate in June of 2020, Dyborn denied the allegations made by Telek, saying she was out of the country at the time and couldn't have met her at the airport.

The lawsuit goes on to say Dyborn, along with Nygard's longtime head of marketing and promotions, Tulikorpi, helped their former boss "conceal and divert assets to benefit Nygard and defraud creditors and victims."

"I'm certainly not doing anything like that," Tulikorpi told CBC News.

Tulikorpi's name has come up repeatedly in the CBCs own investigation into Nygard. 

When two Nygard whistleblowers came forward more than a decade ago, they said Tulikorpi pressured them not to speak to the CBC. 

More recently, a former Nygard videographer said Tulikorpi "coached" a young woman into making a videotaped statement in 2012 that appeared to be "against her will." He said the woman was asked to say Nygard was "nothing but a gentleman." 

Tulikorpi acknowledged she was present, but denied she coached the woman.

'We all lost our jobs'

In 2019, Nygard's son, Kai Bickle, said he witnessed his father inappropriately touching an eight-year-old girl at a dinner party. Nygard denies the incident, and said through a representative, "it never happened" and that other guests at the party confirm that.

Bickle said he immediately reached out to Tulikorpi to report what he saw. But he said nothing happened after that.

Tulikorpi acknowledged Bickle contacted her, but said his description of the incident at the time was vague. 

"Now this story has morphed into something much different from his phone call to me," she said in a followup statement to CBC.

Tiina Tulikorpi, left, has been described as a ‘co-conspirator’ of Nygard’s in lawsuits. (Peter Nygard/YouTube)

"When Kai called me, I was in Toronto and he was in Los Angeles. I told Kai that if he was worried about what he saw at the dinner party, at which he was present and I was not, then he needed to talk to [the girl's] mother immediately, who was present. I also urged Kai to confront his father and he said he would."

Tulikorpi said she also raised the issue with Nygard, but didn't say if anything happened after that.

Tulikorpi said she has a "hard time seeing" that the allegations against her former boss could be true.

"That's very difficult for me. And why I'm struggling and why I'm talking this way is because we have over 1,600 people that lost their jobs. We all lost our jobs."

In the followup statement, she added: "I am devastated by the allegations against my former employer…. Hearing the horrific stories from all those women has shaken me to my core. Every fibre of my being goes out to them."

Dyborn said the allegations against her and her uncle continue to affect her life

"Clearly it's causing a lot of stress and impact on my life. Clearly it's hurtful and it's caused a lot of disruption and it's a year of big losses. I guess there are some serious allegations, again it's hurtful."

Dyborn and Tulikorpi are among a handful of former employees who have been publicly accused of enabling their former boss. 

Former Nygard company executive Greg Fenske, left, has admitted in court to destroying more than 1,000 emails and documents. (Peter Nygard Twitter)

"Willingness to break rules."

Greg Fenske, a senior director with Nygard's companies, has admitted in court to destroying more than 1,000 emails and documents after a subpoena from U.S. authorities ordering the company to turn over internal information. 

In denying Nygard bail in Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench on Feb. 5, the judge cited Nygard's "obvious control" over Fenske and his "willingness to break rules."

In a lawsuit filed in 2020, Instagram model Suelyn Medeiros is described as Nygard's "top girlfriend" based on her willingness and ability to lure women for Nygard to rape.

That lawsuit hasn't been tested in court, and Medeiros denies the allegations.

While the claims made in all of the lawsuits have not yet been heard in court, the U.S. lawyers who filed them believe there are many other former employees who enabled Nygard in his alleged sex-trafficking scheme.

Nygard and Suelyn Medeiros at Virgin Unites Midnight Magic Gala in 2007. The photo appears in a civil lawsuit filed in New York on Nov. 12, 2020. (Southern District Court of New York)

"I would venture to say that there were hundreds of people over the years that were 'employees' of the Nygard companies that were knowing participants in this enterprise," said Greg Gutzler, one of the lawyers suing Nygard in a class-action case on behalf of dozens of women accusing Nygard of rape and sexual assault.

"They were the highest executives down to just regular folks in the accounting department."