the law

Allison Mack Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in NXIVM Sex-Cult Case

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

Smallville actress Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday at Brooklyn Federal Court for her role in the NXIVM sex cult, despite impassioned victim statements that detailed how she destroyed their lives. “Allison Mack is a predator and an evil human being,” Jessica Joan said in court as Mack watched. “She sought me out like a predator stalking their prey — another little lamb to slaughter.” Mack, who was arrested on April 20, 2018, in the NXIVM case, pleaded guilty on April 8, 2019, to one count of racketeering and one count of racketeering conspiracy. NXIVM’s leader, Keith Raniere, was hit with a sentence of 120 years in federal prison on October 27. Raniere was convicted on racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire-fraud conspiracy, forced-labor conspiracy, sex-trafficking conspiracy, and sex-trafficking charges on June 19, 2019.

Joan said that Mack assigned her to seduce Raniere, prompting feelings of betrayal that ultimately led Joan to escape. Joan said that Mack manipulated her emotions in luring her into the group, knowing that she had been sexually assaulted. Mack “tried to use my pain, suffering, and trauma against me,” she stated.

“From the depths of my heart, Allison Mack is an evil sociopath, a menace to society, and a danger to innocent human beings,” Joan said. “She’s the Ghislaine Maxwell to Keith’s Jeffrey Epstein,” she added, referring to the late financier’s alleged sex-trafficking accomplice.

Another victim, Tabitha Chapman, appeared via video. Chapman said she got involved with Mack after the TV star contacted her about doing web-design work, but said she ended up working without pay in exchange for courses, and was “subjected to cruelty beyond my imagination.” Mack became a “bully,” who “told me that I would ruin my children if I did not fix the defects in my personality,” Chapman said.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors said in court proceedings that NXIVM, which was based in the Albany area, offered costly self-help courses — and had a disturbing inner circle named DOS that “operated with levels of women ‘slaves’ headed by ‘masters.’”

The Feds also said that Mack had been a “master” under Raniere, bringing “slaves” and “directly or implicitly required her slaves … to engage in sexual activity with Raniere.” They said that “as directed by Raniere, Mack and other first-line DOS ‘masters’ required their ‘slaves’ to be branded with a symbol that, unknown to the ‘slaves,’ represented Raniere’s own initials.”

Mack addressed the court before Judge Nicholas Garaufis handed down her sentence, breaking into tears toward the end of her speech. “I stand before you today filled with remorse and guilt,” said Mack, who wore a simple black dress. She had swapped her trademark ponytail for a neat bob for the court proceeding. “I renounce Keith Raniere and all his teachings,” she remarked, saying that her regret was from “the deepest part of my heart and soul.”

“I justified his transgressions,” she said of her time with Raniere. “But now I know without a doubt I was wrong.” In handing down his sentence, the judge recognized that Mack used her status as a celebrity to lure and groom victims. “You were essentially an accomplice,” he said. “Mr. Raniere could not have done that without you.”

But, Garaufis said, “You were a slave as well as a master … demeaned in the same capacity of Mr. Raniere’s slaves.” The judge stated that Mack should serve prison time as a deterrent to others, though, and remarked that he hopes she can have a productive life when it’s over.

Mack faced a maximum of 20 years on each count. Her “guidelines sentence” — in essence, prison terms federal probation authorities suggest based not only on the crime, but also on issues such as whether a person has priors — ranged from 14-to-17-and-a-half years. Prosecutors said last week that Mack deserved a more lenient sentence because she gave them “substantial assistance” against Raniere.

“Mack provided significant, detailed, and highly corroborated information which assisted the government in its prosecution,” federal prosecutors said in court papers filed on Monday. Although Mack didn’t take the stand against him, she met with prosecutors “numerous times … and was available to testify at Raniere’s trial if requested to do so,” they explained in court papers. “Perhaps most significantly, Mack provided the government with a recording that, at trial, served as crucial evidence of Raniere’s role in devising the branding ceremony.”

“Do you think the person who’s being branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a, sort of, almost like a sacrifice? I don’t know if that, that’s a feeling of submission, you know,” Raniere commented in this recording. He also talked about how the women should be posed to video-record the ceremony, including “laying on the back, legs slightly, or legs spread straight like, like feet, feet being held to the side of the table, hands probably above the head being held, almost like being tied down, like sacrificial, whatever.”

In court papers last week, Mack’s lawyers asked for a sentence of probation or modified confinement, arguing that she was remorseful. They said that prison would thwart her studies, pointing out that she had recently enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Allison Mack recognizes that she has committed grievous wrongs and that she has earned punishment. She cannot undo what has been done, and she will have to live with the regret for the rest of her life. But Ms. Mack still holds the potential to be valuable to society — as a family member, as a friend, as a helper to those in need, and as a cautionary tale,” they wrote.

“Since her arrest more than three years ago, Ms. Mack has completely turned her life around and recommitted to the values she lost during her time in NXIVM. We respectfully request that the Court permit Ms. Mack to continue on this new path by imposing a sentence that does not require incarceration that would separate Ms. Mack from the family, friends, and educational opportunities that have put her on the path to once again become a valuable member of society.”

Both prosecutors and Mack’s lawyers repeated these arguments in court. Mack did not comment as she left court.

This story contains breaking news and has been updated throughout.

Allison Mack Sentenced to 3 Years in NXIVM Sex-Cult Case