Peter Nygard has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking and racketeering.
Readers will note from our report in today’s Tribune that he was arrested in Winnipeg, Canada, and is facing charges in the Southern District of New York, in the United States – not here in The Bahamas.
Allegations of serious sexual miscondut by Nygard were first revealed by The Tribune in 2019 when six Bahamian women made official complaints of rape and abuse against him.
In the months that follow police said they had launched a criminal investigation which is silently proceeding.
The six women who came forward here resulted in an avalanche of allegations against Nygard from dozens of other alledged victims both here, in the US in Canada. Many of these allegations are now wrapped up in civil actions lodged in US courts.
The offences for which Nygard has now been indicted involve racketeering, sex trafficking of a minor and allegations of transportation for the purpose of prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
Underlying the case against him is that he did not act alone but was supported by his company in financing and facilitating what was allegedly taking place.
Court documents have also explicitly stated that in The Bahamas he was able to carry out his alleged crimes protected by a screen of senior politicians and police.
The victims’ stories all point to the fact Mr Nygard’s operations involved a web of individuals – those he employed and those in the community beyond.
So far local individuals have been named in court and The Bahamas has quietly got on with business, seemingly dismissing the whole affair as just another chapter in Nygard’s interminable feud with his Lyford Cay neighbour Louis Bacon.
We would hope the fact of Nygard’s arrest will change the attitude in those serious media outlets which hold themselves to account and they now join The Tribune in reporting and investigating this story.
In February, we called for a Commission of Inquiry to publicly sift through the allegations.
We should be clear – an allegation is not necessarily true and must be proven to be so. Some of those who have had their names published in allegations may be entirely innocent. Some may not. Clear the names of those who are innocent, but hold to account those who are complicit or took money to look the other way if that was what happened.
As it stands, it looks as though people only have a hope of finding justice if they seek it in another country. Do we really want The Bahamas to be known as a place where sex traffickers and abusers can find safe harbour because that is what it look like if Nygard is found guilty?
The Nygard saga has gone on for a long time, through many court cases and through many claims and counter-claims. Will our justice system at last have an answer for those who say they were abused – or will those accused of allowing it to happen never have to face up to their accusers?
The truth is important not just to those who say they were attacked, raped or threatened – the truth here is important to the very running of our nation itself.