News & Opinion | June 19, 2019 4:09 pm

Leader of Nxivm Sex Cult Convicted on All Charges

Keith Raniere was found guilty on Wednesday of racketeering and sex trafficking

The NXIVM Executive Success Programs sign outside of the office in Albany, New York. (Amy Luke/ Getty)
Getty Images

The man at the helm of the now-infamous sex cult, Nxivm, Keith Raniere, was found guilty on Wednesday of racketeering and sex trafficking after a six-week trial that unveiled the sordid details of the many ways in which Raniere blackmailed his victims into submission.

And Raniere had help, like from former Smallville actress Allison Mack and the multi-million dollar heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, Clare Bronfman, a financier of his illegal activities.

Much of the trial focused on a sub-sect of the cult known as The Vow or D.O.S., in which the women were branded, put on starvation diets and made to have sex with Raniere, The New York Times reported. The women chosen for this group showed their devotion to Raniere by handing over nude photographs of themselves and signed letters that detailed their deepest, darkest secrets — items that kept them loyal and dutiful.

One former member of this secret sorority testified that, at the branding ritual, she was instructed to kneel and say, “Master, please brand me. It would be an honor, an honor I want to wear the rest of my life,” before she was held down by one cult member while another seared Raniere’s initials into her skin.

“With his inner circle, he was the ruler in his universe,” prosecutor Moira Penza said in her closing statement, according to the Times. “A crime boss with no limits and no checks on his power.”

The case against Raniere included a slew of evidence in the form of seized documents, email messages, audio recordings and the testimony of more than a dozen people, some of whom were former “slaves” of his, the Times reported.

Raniere, 58, was previously indicted on crimes that included racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, money laundering, wire fraud, identity theft and possession of child pornography. Five of his coconspirators, all women, pleaded guilty to the various charges they faced before his trial.

Aside form his sex crimes, Brooklyn prosecutors claimed that Raniere, became wealthy through fraudulent activities, like charging over $100,000 to a senior Nxivm member’s credit card and writing $300,000 in checks from her bank account after her death.

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