This Tuesday, Keith Raniere, the leader of the Hollywood sex cult NXIVM, was sentenced to 120 years in prison, on charges of sex-trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, and forced labor. The ruling was made by Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who also ordered Raniere to pay a $1.72 million fine.
“To him, the brave victims … are liars. Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. … [He] has therefore failed to demonstrate remorse,” instead maintaining “to this day that he’s done nothing wrong,” Garaufis said
When Raniere spoke to the court he accused the victims of being liars.
“I do believe strongly that I’m innocent of the charges. But it’s also true I see all of this pain. They’re lying for a reason, and that reason stems from me. I do feel deep remorse, but I do not feel remorseful for the crimes I did not commit,” Raniere said.
Raniere was accused of keeping women and some young children as slaves, and the court heard from many of these victims, some of who were abused by Raniere when they were in their early teens. There were also numerous Hollywood actresses involved in the cult, as slaves, recruiters, and donors.
Smallville actress Allison Mack was a member of the cult and worked in a management position. As second-in-command, it was her job to lure women into the programs under the pretense of female empowerment and self-help workshops, to then convince them to sign up for a more “advanced program” called Dominus Obsequious Sororium, which required these women to basically turn the lives over to cult leader Keith Raniere. Dominus Obsequious Sororium is a quasi-Latin phrase that roughly translates to “Master Over the Slave Women.”
When women joined Raniere’s inner circle, they were forced to sign over their finances to him, starve themselves to maintain a certain weight, and he even had them surgically branded with his initials. Raniere would use blackmail to keep the women from speaking out, by collecting nude photos and damaging evidence on family members.
The cult was finally exposed when the daughter of former Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg became a member. Oxenberg told the New York Times that she became concerned after she saw that her 26-year-old daughter India was extremely emaciated from dieting, and was suffering from serious health problems.
Raniere has an extensive history of pedophilia, with accusations that stretch back over 20 years, involving girls as young as 12.
In 2012, several women were interviewed by the Albany Times Union about the coercive sexual experiences that they had with Raniere when they were young girls. One of the women in the case was found dead of a gunshot wound before she was able to give the interview. Her death was ruled a suicide.
The organization worked much like a pyramid scheme, collecting regular fees from its members. But the majority of the funding, over $150 million, came from the trust funds of Seagram heiresses, Sara and Clare Bronfman. Their involvement with Raniere began in 2002 and has been very public and controversial, with other members of the Bronfman family distancing themselves from the sisters in the press. Last month, Clare Bronfman was sentenced to seven years in prison for her involvement in the NXIVM cult.