TORONTO — WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
A Canadian woman who has added her name to a growing civil class action lawsuit against fashion mogul Peter Nygard is speaking out for the first time, alleging Nygard drugged and raped her in an attack that still haunts her 20 years later.
The woman, identified only as “Jane Doe 16,” is one of 18 unidentified Canadians named in the lawsuit which accuses Nygard of rape, sexual assault and sexual trafficking, citing claims that he lured young women and teenagers, some as young as 14, with promises of cash and modelling opportunities.
Speaking to CTV National News, the woman, who is now in her 40s, says she was 19 years old when she was allegedly drugged and raped by Nygard at his estate in the Bahamas.
“He pulled my dress up, and he held me down, and he sodomized me,” the woman told CTV News.
“I’d never felt that kind of pain before and I was scared, but I was alone and I couldn’t stop it.”
The woman says the attack took place in 1998. She says she was spending the summer in the Bahamas with her family when she says a tennis coach took her to the Winnipeg native’s Bahamian mansion, encouraging her to play a game with the fashion tycoon.
At first, she says she didn’t feel threatened by Nygard, eventually agreeing to stay alone in a cabana on his resort.
“He said I could stay and enjoy and socialize with his guests,” she said.
According to court documents, Nygard “provided her [Jane Doe 16] to his friends for them to have sex with as well.”
“I just turned myself off. Almost like pretending it wasn’t happening in a way,” she said of the alleged assault. “I was very, very ashamed.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in mid-February, accuses Nygard of luring “young, impressionable, and often impoverished children and women” to visit his Bahamian mansion for so-called “pamper parties” in order to “assault, rape, and sodomize them.”
The lawsuit also names a number of the 78-year-old business magnate’s New York-based corporate entities and employees as defendants in the case for their alleged roles in “financing, facilitating, and covering up the abuse.”
None of the 46 women accusing Nygard have been named in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in mid-February.
None of the allegations against Nygard have been proven in court.
Jay Prober, Nygard’s Winnipeg-based lawyer, has denied the allegations, calling them “completely false” and says they’re “vigorously” denied by his client.
“We’re at, what, 46 complainants. You’d think one of them would’ve gone to the police or someone in a position of authority,” Prober told CTV News by phone.
“Why are all of them hiding behind a cloak of anonymity?”
Speaking to CTVNews.ca in February, one day after the initial lawsuit was filed, Prober suggested the lawsuit is part of a larger, longstanding dispute between Nygard and a neighbour in the Bahamas.
Prober said the ongoing battle between the two businessmen started over access to property. At the time, he alleged that the neighbour was behind the allegations and suggested that women were paid to “fabricate and manufacture” the claims.
With some of the assaults alleged to have taken place in Canada, national anti-exploitation group Beyond Borders is now urging Canadian authorities to investigate the claims.
“As far as we are concerned, these allegations are serious enough that they deserve the attention of the criminal authorities,” David Matas, a lawyer with Beyond Borders, told CTV News.
In February, the FBI and the New York Police Department raided the company’s headquarters in Times Square. Nygard stepped down as chairman of the company hours following the raid and the company has since fallen into receivership.
Nygard’s accuser says adding her name to the lawsuit was a difficult process.
After nearly dying of suicide seven years ago, she says she began talking about the alleged assaults and got help. Now a wife and mother, she says she had to get better for herself and her family.
“I’d like to see him put away,” said Nygard’s accuser. “I don’t think he has the right to live the way he’s been living. I’d like to see that taken away from him, just like so many things he’s taken away from me.”
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