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A senior Bahamian politician is calling for an investigation into allegations that Winnipeg fashion mogul Peter Nygard concealed a decades-long sex trafficking ring at his island estate by bribing police and public officials.
A recent class-action lawsuit alleges Nygard, 77, and his business associates lured women — many of them girls under the age of 18 — to his Bahamian estate so he could drug, assault, rape and sodomize them.
"Those are some serious allegations being made and I am certain the police would want to follow up on them to determine exactly whether there is any validity to them. We have an obligation to do so," National Security Minister Marvin Dames told the Bahamian-based news outlet The Tribune.
"Anytime you have allegations of that nature being reported to law enforcement within or outside of the country, we have that obligation, especially when the allegations are being made against public officials and law enforcement officials."
Ten women, whose identities are not publicly known, filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Feb. 13. Nine of them are Bahamian citizens.
Dames said if the Bahamian authorities fail to properly investigate the allegations, the country’s reputation will suffer on the international stage.
"Those are some serious allegations being made and I am certain the police would want to follow up on them to determine exactly whether there is any validity to them. We have an obligation to do so." — Bahamas National Security Minister Marvin Dames
"As a country, if we fail to look into them, certainly it will have an adverse impact on our reputation and our ability to work along with other countries around the world," he said.
Meanwhile, the legal firm representing the 10 accusers say there could be hundreds more victims who have yet to come forward. Since filing the lawsuit Feb. 13, the lawyers say dozens of alleged victims and more than 100 witnesses have contacted them.
Greg Gutzler, one of the attorneys handling the class-action lawsuit, said new accusers are reaching out at a rapid pace — including just minutes before he spoke to the Free Press.
"Just before I called you I got a very extensive voicemail from someone who told me that she was raped and she has contemporaneous notes and documents to send me. (He and the other lawyers involved in the case) are each getting several phone calls each and every day. The volume has not decreased," Gutzler said.
"The pattern is very similar — the same pattern, the same practice, the same manoeuvres, the same protocol, if you will. I can’t put a finer point on it because if I give you a number (of alleged victims) now, it’ll be higher in two hours. It keeps going up."
The allegations against Nygard date as far back as 1977, he said.
The law firm released a new document Tuesday detailing in greater specificity the sexually perverse attacks Nygard is alleged to have carried out on the women.
One woman alleges she cried as she lost her virginity as Nygard raped her when she was 14 years old, leaving her with "extraordinary trauma and pain." She is not the only alleged victim who says she was a virgin before being raped by Nygard.
Jay Prober, Nygard’s lawyer, has denied the allegations against his client, saying the claims are just the latest attempt by American hedge-fund billionaire Louis Bacon to ruin Nygard’s reputation.
Bacon is Nygard’s neighbour in The Bahamas. The men have had a long-running public feud that has escalated to lawsuits and other court actions.
"Did it ever occur to anyone to ask why these statements are being issued? Normally, you don’t issue statements on matters that are before the courts. So my view is that the whole thing is part of an orchestrated media campaign by those involved in a conspiracy to bring Nygard down," Prober said.
"And furthermore, as I said before, a lot of people see dollar signs and they’re jumping on the bandwagon."
An attorney for Bacon did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Tuesday.
No statement of defence has been filed in response to the class-action lawsuit. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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