Finnish-Canadian designer Peter Nygard, accused of racketeering and sex trafficking charges, consented Friday to be extradited to the United States to defend himself.
Nygard, 80, appearing via videoconference at an extradition hearing in Winnipeg, verbally confirmed his consent, which his attorney, Brian Greenspan, told the court came “despite his continuing challenge to the veracity and reliability of the evidence contained in the record of the case.”
“He has always unequivocally maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing,” Greenspan said. “This process can now move forward in order for him to face trial in the United States on an expedited basis and for him to have the opportunity to raise his defense and to challenge the truthfulness of the evidence which has been brought against him.”
The hearing occurred Friday as police in Toronto said they had an arrest warrant accusing Nygard of six counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement for incidents dating to the late 1980s.
Nygard is currently being held in Canada following his indictment in New York last year on nine counts, including sex trafficking and racketeering charges. Federal prosecutors accuse the designer and associates of using modeling and other fashion industry jobs to “lure victims into Nygard’s orbit and keep them there.”
The accusers were then “forcibly sexually assaulted, drugged, and/or coerced into sexual contact with Nygard,” according to the US indictment. Many alleged victims were underage girls who came from disadvantaged backgrounds or had a history of abuse.
Ken Frydman, a spokesman for Nygard, has said the allegations against Nygard are false and intended to damage the designer and his businesses.
The Toronto charges involve incidents that took place in the late 1980s and early 2000s.
CNN has reached out to Nygard’s attorney for comment.
Shannon Maroney, a therapist and advocate who is working with about 40 people who have accused Nygard of sexual abuse, noted Nygard has not faced charges in Canada until now.
“It is a relief. It is validation. It is decades delayed,” Maroney said. “The message from all the trauma survivors is a charge for one of us is charge for all of us. There is that sense of collectivity across this group of women who don’t know each other.”
Prosecutors said that despite Nygard’s consent, Friday’s proceeding will not result in his immediate extradition.
Scott Farlinger, a lawyer with the Attorney General of Canada, said the Minister of Justice “still will have to make the ultimate decision on surrender.”
Chief Justice Glenn Joyal told Nygard at the end of the hearing that he cannot be extradited for at least 30 days, can file an appeal and apply for bail.
In a statement. Toronto police accused Nygard of forcibly confining and sexually assaulting a woman between October and November 1987; forcibly confining and sexually assaulting a woman between November 1988 and February 1989; sexually assaulting a woman in December 1989; and forcibly confining a woman and sexually assaulting her between April and September 1988.
The statement also accused Nygard of forcible confinement and sexual assault between January and March 2005, and sexually assaulting a woman between November 2005 and March 2006.
Nygard was arrested by Canadian authorities in December and is in custody in Winnipeg.
The allegations in the New York indictment match claims victims have publicly made in lawsuits filed by attorneys Greg Gutzler and Lisa Haba, who have told CNN more than 100 victims have come forward with allegations of abuse since they filed a suit on behalf of 10 anonymous women against him in February 2020.