Keith Raniere, leader of the NXIVM sex cult, was sentenced to 120 years in federal prison on Tuesday. Raniere was found guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire-fraud conspiracy, forced-labor conspiracy, sex-trafficking conspiracy, and two counts of sex trafficking on June 19, 2019, following a six-week trial.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the former NXIVM leader “failed to demonstrate remorse” before handing down Raniere’s sentence. The judge also imposed a fine of $1.75 million. Garaufis said that Raniere “targeted the most vulnerable” in his community. “A significant sentence is not just appropriate, but necessary,” he said. “Mr. Raniere has acted as though the law does not apply to him.”
Brooklyn federal prosecutors said that NXIVM, an Albany-area group that offered costly self-help classes, included a secretive sect called DOS that “operated with levels of women ‘slaves’ headed by ‘masters.’” The NXIVM scandal also implicated several high-profile co-conspirators, such as Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman and Smallville actress Allison Mack. The Vow, an HBO docuseries on NXIVM, premiered in August, providing details of the elusive group’s activities.
The Feds said Mack worked as a “master” under Raniere to lure slaves and “directly or implicitly required her slaves … to engage in sexual activity with Raniere.” When Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering in relation to her involvement in NXIVM in April 2019, she said, “I was a member of a secret society.” Mack admitted that she had tried recruiting women into DOS. Mack also stated that she had obtained “collateral,” damaging info about several women, so they would comply with NXIVM’s demands.
Prosecutors maintained that Raniere and Bronfman had plotted to commit identity fraud by obtaining email log-in info belonging to “perceived enemies and critics of Raniere in order to monitor their electronic communications.” They also said that Bronfman — who pleaded guilty in April 2019 and was sentenced to 81 months in September 2020 — had enabled Raniere. Bronfman, prosecutors said, “used her extraordinary wealth and social status to fund and promote a criminal enterprise led by her co-defendant, Keith Raniere … She recruited individuals into NXIVM-affiliated organizations and brought them within Raniere’s orbit.”
There were 15 statements provided by Raniere’s victims including India Oxenberg, daughter of Dynasty actress Cathy Oxenberg, during the sentencing. The majority were given in person and some were via video or audio.
“You stole seven years of my life from me that I’ll never get back,” she said, as she described a disturbing sexual relationship she said was based on Raniere’s coercion. He would tell her to lie naked and wait for him to come for sexual encounters, she said.
“The unwanted touch … the horror of hearing his voice in the darkness,” she recalled.
“I will be a victim of Keith Raniere for the rest of my life,” she said, further claiming, “You’re a sexual predator, and you raped me.”
Oxenberg said that despite not wanting to engage in sex acts with Raniere, she did so out of fear of blackmail as well as “consequences and punishment” from Mack.
She said that Raniere put her on a restricted-calorie diet for over a year, bringing her weight to an unhealthy 106 pounds.
“I was your human science experiment,” she said, “all because you wanted me to look like I was 12 years old.”
“I still hear your and Allison’s words,” she said. “‘Everything I do for you is for your own good.’ ‘You’re an entitled little princess’ … ‘You’re good at being a slave.’”
One woman named Camila also gave a statement, telling the court that she met Raniere at age 13 and that he subsequently started grooming her for abuse.
The first time she had sex was with Raniere — when she was just 15 years old.
“He was 45,” Camila said.
“He took naked pictures of [me],” she said. “The experience of being photographed is seared to my memory.”
“He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me.”
One victim who provided a statement via audio transmission described how Raniere thought he was different than others, saying, “He claimed to have mystical powers.”
“He had to have sex constantly lest his spiritual energy” decline.
She said that he baited her with “promises of his first-born child.”
Another victim said “From day one, you and Allison lied to me about what was going on.”
The woman started crying when she referred to text messages where she and others were discussed as sex objects.
“I was one of the fuck-toys, [the] sex slaves,” she said.
Nicki Clyne, a NXIVM supporter and reportedly Mack’s wife, was present in court. She initially didn’t want to comment on the proceedings but passed Vulture a note shortly before the sentencing began.
“I have observed in disbelief as my friends have been mischaracterized and dehumanized in the media,” wrote Clyne, an actress on Battlestar Galactica.
Right before his sentence came down, Raniere addressed the court.
“I don’t have anything written,” Raniere began. “I do believe strongly that I’m innocent of the charges. But it is also true that I caused all this pain.”
Raniere said “I’m not remorseful” of the crimes since he doesn’t think he committed them.
“Even if I don’t feel it’s legitimate, I ask forgiveness,” he said.
Raniere said that Mack, Bronfman, and his other co-defendants “are innocent” and asked the judge to rethink their roles in the case.
“Blame me if you have to,” he said.
“Please don’t lump them with me,” he also said. “They have good souls, they’re innocent.”
“I’m deeply sorry,” he also said.
This post has been updated throughout.
More From This Series
- SNL Knows That Nothing Says Relaxation Like Watching Murder Shows
- Which NXIVM Docuseries Is Right for You?
- Before NXIVM and The Vow, Mark Vicente Directed a Truly Bizarre Hit Documentary