October 23, 2020

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Winnipeg police investigating Nygard on sex assault charges, accusers confirm

Peter Nygard is the subject of an ongoing Winnipeg Police Service investigation after multiple women stepped forward to file formal criminal complaints against the embattled fashion mogul for alleged sexual assault.

While it was known Nygard was the subject of an investigation in the U.S. by a joint child-exploitation task force, this is the first confirmation that a criminal probe into the allegations against him is underway in his hometown.

The Free Press confirmed the existence of the WPS investigation through interviews with alleged victims. It's not clear when the criminal probe was launched or how many women have filed complaints.

Police did not respond to a Free Press request for comment Monday afternoon. In the past, the WPS has said the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations unless they lead to charges being laid.

While it was known Nygard was the subject of an investigation in the U.S. by a joint child-exploitation task force, this is the first confirmation that a criminal probe into the allegations against him is underway in his hometown. (Annie I. Bang / Canadian Press/AP/Invision files)

CP

While it was known Nygard was the subject of an investigation in the U.S. by a joint child-exploitation task force, this is the first confirmation that a criminal probe into the allegations against him is underway in his hometown. (Annie I. Bang / Canadian Press/AP/Invision files)

In the face of mounting rape allegations, Nygard, 78, has repeatedly maintained his innocence, claiming he’s at the centre of an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by people with personal vendettas against him who are intent on ruining his reputation.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

KC Allan, 58, confirmed to the Free Press she filed a criminal complaint with the WPS on June 29, providing her incident number and the name of the investigator who interviewed her.

Allan says Nygard violently raped her shortly after she graduated high school in the fall of 1979 at the age of 17.

"It was full, fast and violent, and when it was over it was abrupt…. In no way, in his mind, could he have fooled himself into thinking it was seduction," Allan said.

On the night in question, Allan — a Winnipegger who now lives in the U.S. — said she was out dancing with a friend at a club in the Exchange District and Nygard, then 38, was also there.

When it was time to leave, Allan said she went to catch a cab, but Nygard appeared and offered to drive her home instead and she agreed.

But instead of driving to Fort Garry, where she lived with her parents, Allan said Nygard drove to one of his properties, saying he needed to stop by the office.

When they got there he invited her inside to take a look, and they ended up inside his "executive suite," she said.

"We weren’t there but seconds and he pushed me backwards onto his bed…. He used his body weight and forearm across my throat to pin me. He ripped off my dress and underwear and he vaginally raped me," she said, adding he did not wear a condom.

After the assault, Allan said Nygard drove her home. She never saw him in person again.

A total of 57 women have joined a class-action lawsuit, first made public in February 2020, against the fashion mogul in U.S. court, detailing allegations of rape, drugging and sodomy.

A total of 57 women have joined a class-action lawsuit, first made public in February 2020, against the fashion mogul in U.S. court, detailing allegations of rape, drugging and sodomy.

Jay Prober, one of Nygard’s attorneys, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. In previous interviews, Prober has repeatedly said the women accusing Nygard of sexual assault are lying.

"As I predicted before, more women are, in fact, jumping on what they perceive to be the money train, the gravy train. They see this as a cash cow. I believe that explains the rather ludicrous number of (accusers)," Prober previously told the Free Press.

The accusations against Nygard went public in February 2020 when a group of 10 women filed a class-action lawsuit against the fashion mogul in U.S. court, detailing allegations of rape, drugging and sodomy.

Allan has since signed on to the lawsuit as well, bringing the total number of public accusers up to 57.

When Allan first learned of the existence of the lawsuit, she said she wasn’t interested in joining, since she’d long since gotten over the assault. But after she saw comments made by Prober to media outlets where he accused women of lying for money, she said she felt she had to step forward.

"You’re used to hearing lawyers say things like, ‘We’ll mount an aggressive defence,’ or, ‘We will be vindicated in court.’ But Jay Prober called these women liars. It’s bullying, it’s unethical, it’s misplaced and it’s poor representation for his client," she said.

"On both sides of this equation, he is the only proven paid liar that I know of. He’s being paid and he’s lying about me. I can’t speak about these other women, since they’re Jane Does, but he’s lying about me and he’s paid to do it."

Reva Steenbergen, 53, a Winnipegger who now lives in Ontario, has also joined the lawsuit. She said she plans to file a formal criminal complaint against Nygard.

When she was younger, Steenbergen was a successful nude model who worked under the name Riva Rose, and landed cover spots on magazines including Penthouse. However, Steenbergen said she aspired to transition into mainstream modelling, so when her friend offered to introduce her to Nygard, she thought it was her big break.

After an initial meeting with Nygard, in March 1992, Steenbergen said he told her she’d be flown to the Bahamas for a photo shoot that would be used for his fashion line.

Steenbergen said she was taken to Nygard Cay — his luxurious property in a gated community in the island nation — and wasn't allowed to leave without his approval.

Steenbergen said she initially rebuffed his sexual advances and repeatedly made clear she had travelled to the Bahamas for a modelling opportunity and nothing else.

She said Nygard eventually raped her on back-to-back nights.

"He was rough. He held my hands down on the bed, and he did what he did… I can’t tell you how disorienting this was. Twice, different nights, two nights in a row," she said.

The allegation has not been proven in court.

Steenbergen said the assault had a significant negative impact on her life. She said her motivation for stepping forward isn’t to seek money, but to see Nygard held accountable.

Allan echoed those comments, saying she’s motivated only by a feeling of responsibility to stand with other women alleging similar experiences."I don’t feel personal pain about this anymore. I feel frustration. All our institutions failed us... but the harm is no longer with me," she said.

"All that resides with me now is a burning desire for social justice."

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

 

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

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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