Keith Raniere, Chief of Nxivm Intercourse Cult, Faces Life Sentence

Keith Raniere promised a path to happiness, seducing profitable and rich individuals who felt they lacked a better goal in life. His firm, Nxivm, offered self-improvement workshops that grew to become in style in Hollywood and enterprise circles.

However beneath the floor, Mr. Raniere was a puppet grasp controlling a cultlike felony enterprise, prosecutors revealed at his trial. Some girls in Nxivm had been compelled to have intercourse with Mr. Raniere, and even branded with his initials in a secret ceremony.

On Tuesday, Mr. Raniere, 60, will probably be sentenced in federal courtroom in Brooklyn for his participation in intercourse trafficking and different crimes. The listening to started at 11 a.m.

Mr. Raniere’s conviction final yr capped a shocking downfall for a person who was as soon as idolized by his followers, however has since been uncovered as a fraudster who exploited Nxivm’s adherents for cash, intercourse and energy.

Former Nxivm members stated Mr. Raniere and his internal circle preyed on insecure individuals who hoped that immersing themselves in costly self-help lessons would unlock the important thing to success. Even extremely educated folks grew to become trapped inside Mr. Raniere’s system, which he offered as the one technique to overcome their fears, shaming anybody who tried to stop.

At Mr. Raniere’s trial, prosecutors lifted the veil on a sordid side to Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um). A main focus was a secretive women-only group contained in the group. Throughout a videotaped initiation ceremony, the women laid naked on a table, saying, “Grasp, please model me,” as a cauterizing pen seared their pores and skin with out anesthesia.

A few of these girls testified that they thought they had been becoming a member of a girls’s empowerment group, solely to find that they had been directed to have intercourse with Mr. Raniere.

The ladies, known as “slaves,” wanted permission to eat and had been recurrently required at hand over collateral like sexually express movies, which they always feared can be launched. Prosecutors known as it extortion.

A jury convicted Mr. Raniere final summer time after a six-week trial. Prosecutors charged him with racketeering, making use of a statute that had been used to dismantle the Mafia households in New York. Moreover intercourse trafficking, the jury discovered him responsible of crimes that included baby pornography, compelled labor, identification theft and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors have stated in courtroom papers that Mr. Raniere deserves a life sentence, a punishment that’s usually reserved for circumstances involving deaths or murders.

Mr. Raniere’s legal professionals have argued that no person was “shot, stabbed, punched, kicked, slapped and even yelled at.” This was not the everyday organized crime case, and Mr. Raniere ought to get not more than 15 years in jail, they contended.

“Nobody has ever testified that she or he joined a drug gang or the Genovese Household or a cartel as a result of they thought that by doing so, they might make the world higher or convey a better degree of humanity to themselves and others,” his legal professionals wrote.

Prosecutors have stated Mr. Raniere’s unwillingness to just accept duty and his contempt for his victims demonstrated {that a} life sentence was the one technique to cease him from hurting extra folks.

To today, Mr. Raniere has many supporters who consider he was wrongfully convicted and demand that each exercise in Nxivm was amongst consenting adults. Dozens wrote letters to the court urging leniency.

Mr. Raniere himself has expressed no regrets, accusing the federal decide, Nicholas G. Garaufis, of corruption and demanding a brand new trial.

“He’s not sorry for his conduct or his selections,” his legal professionals wrote in a courtroom submitting final month, including that he “intends to struggle this case with all of his may, assured that he’ll someday be vindicated.”

In current months, Mr. Raniere has spearheaded a marketing campaign to overturn his conviction. He has directed his supporters to create a podcast about his case and arrange a contest to search out errors in his prosecution in trade for a $25,000 money prize, courtroom filings present.

The corporate was funded largely by an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, Clare Bronfman, who spent greater than $100 million of her inheritance to sue Mr. Raniere’s enemies and assist the group. She even bought an island in Fiji that Nxivm’s leaders used as a retreat.

One in every of Nxivm’s high recruiters was Allison Mack, the previous tv actress recognized for her function on “Smallville,” whose glowing testimonials helped convey Hollywood celebrities into the group. The Dalai Lama as soon as spoke at a Nxivm occasion.

Mr. Raniere was charged together with 5 girls in his internal circle, together with Ms. Bronfman and Ms. Mack. Every of them pleaded responsible forward of his trial.

Ms. Bronfman was sentenced final month to greater than six years in jail for her function in Nxivm. The others shouldn’t have sentencing dates but.

The group’s gross sales pitch claimed that Mr. Raniere was a genius with one of many highest I.Q. scores on the earth.

In actuality, prosecutors have stated, he graduated with a 2.26 grade level common from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., after failing a number of the math and science lessons that he later bragged about taking.

Many Nxivm members by no means had a sexual relationship with Mr. Raniere, however they did face strain to pay for increasingly more lessons, sometimes taking on debt to do so. One couple estimated they spent $300,000 on Nxivm programs and had been compelled to declare chapter, prosecutors have stated.

Since Mr. Raniere co-founded Nxivm in 1998, round 18,000 folks have taken its programs in the US, Mexico and Canada.

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