(ZH) — NXIVM sex-cult leader and accused pedophile Keith Raniere was found guilty on Wednesday of running the ultra-secretive organization that hot-branded and tortured women as part of an organized scheme to provide himself with a constant supply of sex slaves.
Within Nxivm, Raniere ran a secret society called DOS, in which slaves were tasked with recruiting slaves of their own. The women were starved, branded with Raniere’s initials and forced to sleep with him or perform other sex acts, according to testimony. –NY Post
“Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a master manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization involved in sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion, compelled abortions, branding, degradation and humiliation,” said Richard Donoghue, US attorney for the eastern district of New York.
The punishments could include being forced to hold painful poses, stand barefoot in the snow, take cold showers and whip each other on the “bare butt” with the strap, Ms. Salzman said. She recalled that Mr. Raniere once called during the beatings to tell the women to make sure that they snapped their wrists in a particular way to inflict maximum pain. –New York Times
The jury in Brooklyn federal court found Raniere guilty on all counts in the seven-week trial, including racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, attempted sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy according to the New York Post. He did not shake his attorneys’ hands after the verdict and before being handcuffed and let out of the courtroom.
Raniere’s co-defendants pleaded guilty earlier this year after accusations of pedophilia emerged. They include NXIVM president Nancy Salzman and her daugher Lauren, Smallville‘s Allison Mack and Seagram heiress Claire Bronfman – who used her interitance to bankroll the group for years.
Bronfman, the 39-year-old daughter of late Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman, pleaded not guilty last July to charges of racketeering, money laundering and identity theft for NXIVM. According to a 2010 Vanity Fair report, Clare and her sister Sara contributed approximately $150 million of their trust fund to NXIVM.
Smallville‘s Mack, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to manipulating and procuring women for Raniere – who required that prospective “slaves” upload compromising collateral into a Dropbox account. One such recruit-turned-coach was India Oxenberg – daughter of Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg, who met with prosecutors in New York in late 2017 to present evidence against Raniere. On Wednesady, Catherine Oxenberg sat in the back row of the courtroom, sobbing.
In one recorded conversation with Mack, Raniere said he wanted the group’s “hot-branding” ceremonies to resemble a “sacrifice.” Former cult member Lauren Salzman said it was the “most painful thing I have ever experienced.” In may, Salzman testified that she was forced to kneel and chant “Master, please brand me, it would be an honor, an honor I want to wear for the rest of my life,” after which she was held down on a massage table while someone branded Raniere’s initials into her pelvis.
Raniere was also indicted on charges of having sex with a 15-year-old girl before he formed NXIVM’s inner-circle, DOS, as well as producing kiddie porn, however there were no counts related to pedophilia in his verdict.
Raniere, 58, is accused of having a child “engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing one or more visual depictions of such conduct, which visual depictions were produced and transmitted” –New York Post
In addition to exploiting women for sex, Prosecutors said Raniere charged a dead NXIVM member’s credit card over $100,000, and wrote checks in excess of $300,000 out of her bank account.
The evidence included seized documents, email messages, audio recordings and testimony from more than a dozen people, including women who had been former “slaves.”
The witnesses offered a chilling and sometimes surreal glimpse of daily life inside the highly secretive group, where Mr. Raniere was revered and appeared to exercise broad power.
Nxivm members thronged to late-night volleyball games in which he was a participant, eager to catch a glimpse of him and pay their respects. His birthday, in late August, was marked by several days of celebration called V-Week at a rustic retreat near Lake George in upstate New York.
High-ranking members of Mr. Raniere’s organization hacked into computer accounts and paid private investigators in an effort to obtain personal information on perceived enemies including Senator Chuck Schumer and the liquor magnate Edgar Bronfman Sr., whose two daughters became members of Nxivm, evidence showed. –New York Times
Raniere will be sentenced on September 25.
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