Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sex Crimes

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Fashion Executive Charged with Sex Trafficking Crimes Against Women and Young Girls

On Tuesday, December 15, the U.S. attorney’s office, the F.B.I., and the New York Police Department charged an influential and wealthy fashion executive with sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, and several other related crimes that involved dozens of women and girls as young as 14 over a 25-year-period. More than 80 women from the United States, the Bahamas, and Canada have signed on as plaintiffs. At the time of the assault, many victims were sought out to be models or actresses, recruited by Nygaard’s company.

According to The New York Times, Peter Nygard is “accused of targeting victims from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and, in some cases, with a history of abuse. Mr. Nygard sexually assaulted some, it said, while his associates assaulted or drugged others to ensure their compliance with Nygard’s sexual demands.”

Nygard, who is now 79-years-old, is facing a nine-count federal indictment. The Federal prosecutors said Nygard used his company’s influence and resources to recruit adult and “minor-aged female victims” for the sexual gratification of him and his associates. According to a release by the U.S. Justice Department, Nygard used various tools to recruit women and minors for sex, including:

  • Events hosted at Nygard’s properties in Marina del Rey, California and in the Bahamas, including so-called “Pamper Parties,” named for the free food, drink, and spa services that Nygard made available. Nygard frequently used a “girlfriend” or another employee to approach a chosen woman or girl to indicate his interest in sex. Nygard engaged in sexual activity with the victim on the premises and paid her cash. Some unwilling participants, including minors, were drugged to force their compliance with his sexual demands. Other victims had no advance warning of Nygard’s interest in sexual activity before being lured to a secluded area of the property where Nygard used physical force and/or psychological pressure to coerce sex.
  • Sex and “swingers” clubs, where Nygard directed and pressured “girlfriends” through manipulation, intimidation, degradation, threats and, on occasion, force, to engage in sex with other men in order to facilitate Nygard having sex with other women and for his own sexual gratification.
  • Sexual “swaps” with male friends and business associates, who would bring Nygard a “date” for sex in exchange for sexual access to one of Nygard’s “girlfriends.” Nygard did not inform “girlfriends” in advance that he would trade them for sex and often used manipulation, intimidation, degradation, and threats to ensure compliance.

This is not the first news of Nygaard’s involvement in sex trafficking, rape, or sexual assault. For nearly four decades, similar complaints have followed the fashion mogul and led to accusations of dozens of commercial sex crimes. In February 2020, a neighbor filed a lawsuit accusing Nygard of sexually assaulting minors after being lured into his home in the Bahamas, a compound he described to others as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Nygard has since been arrested in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and being held in a Manitoba jail, awaiting extradition by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The arrest was made after an investigation conducted by a joint child exploitation task force.

Understanding Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sex Crimes

Some sexual abusers will use force, fraud, or coercion to subject victims to engage in commercial sex or forced labor. According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), “human trafficking has occurred if a person was induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.”

The Centers for Disease Control describes sex trafficking as:

  • People of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, countries of origin, and income levels.
  • Survivors who are immigrants, homeless, or from communities of color are especially vulnerable.
  • Individuals trapped and controlled through assault, threats, false promises, perceived sense of protection, isolation, shaming, and debt.
  • Those suffering physical or sexual abuse in their personal lives may struggle in the workplace and social situations.

It is also important to note that victims of sex trafficking, enslaved rape, or commercial sex acts do not have to be physically transported between locations to be victimized. Many victims will require help and additional support to see them through one or more of these experiences:

  • Medical treatment for physical wounds.
  • Psychological and emotional support for trauma, including counseling and treatment.
  • Financial burdens caused by lost employment or wages.
  • Damages on behalf of a spouse who suffers from anger, loss of sexual intimacy, fear, and resentment.

Discussing sexual assault is not comfortable or easy, but contacting a sexual abuse lawyer can be a first step in seeking help to file charges against the perpetrator, whether it was with a domestic and intimate partner or someone who you did not know. You should also know that we believe in your right to privacy as a survivor of a sex crime, and we can support your decisions about how, when, and where to report incidents of abuse. Our attorneys will always act in the best interests of the survivor.

Contact a Sexual Assault Attorney in Chicago at Levin & Perconti

Levin & Perconti’s sexual assault attorneys understand the severity of your situation and put the needs of those who have suffered before all else. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or a commercial sex act, we are happy to discuss your potential case with you and review all of your legal options in a free and confidential consultation. You will never pay any fees unless we successfully resolve your case. When you are ready, call us at 877-374-1417 or in Chicago at 312-332-2872.

If you are not ready to contact a Levin & Perconti lawyer at this time, we encourage you to reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline for assistance in crisis through emotional support and connections to local resources.

Also read: Levin & Perconti Attorney Megan Shore Represents Women in Massage Envy Sexual Assault Cases

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