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Self-help guru Raniere faces US child porn charges; associate pleads guilty

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Federal prosecutors on Wednesday unveiled child pornography charges against self-help guru and accused sex trafficker Keith Raniere, just hours after a former top associate pleaded guilty to engaging in a criminal conspiracy with him.

In a superseding indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court, prosecutors accused Raniere, founder of the Albany, New York-based organization Nxivm, of coercing a child to engage in sexual conduct to produce visual depictions of it, and of possessing child pornography between 2005 and 2018.

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Raniere, who was known within Nxivm as “Vanguard,” was arrested in March 2018 on charges including sex trafficking. Prosecutors said Raniere led a group within Nxivm called DOS or “the sorority” in which women were branded with his initials, blackmailed and coerced into having sex with him.

A trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Raniere, has said his client’s sexual relationships with members were consensual, and on Wednesday denied the child pornography charges.

“If these charges were legitimate the government would have brought them a year ago,” he said in an email.

The charges were unsealed several hours after former Nxivm president Nancy Salzman, known in the organization as “Prefect,” pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

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Salzman, who has not reached any agreement to cooperate with prosecutors as part of her plea, admitted to hacking the email accounts of Nxivm critics and overseeing the destruction of video evidence in a civil lawsuit involving the organization.

Her daughter, Lauren Salzman, has also been charged in the case, along with actress Allison Mack, Seagram liquor heiress Clare Bronfman and Nxivm member Kathy Russell. All have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have said Raniere and his associates ran “pyramid-structured” schemes, including selling expensive courses, to bring in money and new members.

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They have said that members of DOS were required upon joining the group to provide so-called “collateral” that could be used against them if they tried to leave, including compromising information about family and friends, nude photographs and rights to their assets.

Only Raniere and Mack are accused of sex trafficking. Other defendants face charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, wire fraud and identity theft.

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Nxivm on its website calls itself “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.”

Reporting by Brendan Pierson; editing by Tom Brown


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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WATCH: AOC dunks on GOP for ‘beclowning themselves’ during Trump’s impeachment

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) blasted her Republican colleagues on national TV on Friday.

Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. She was interviewed on MSNBC's "All In" by anchor Chris Hayes.

"Midway through today's impeachment inquiry, the president was accused of witness tampering," Hayes noted. "One of the sharpest rejoinders came from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."

The host read her tweet to the live studio audience.

he*

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2019

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‘The worst day of the presidency so far for Donald Trump’: Advisor to four presidents

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President Donald Trump has not had a worse day in office than he suffered on Friday, according to a top former White House advisor.

David Gergen served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He was interviewed Friday night by CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"If you are looking to throw somebody under the bus, Gordon Sondland would probably be a prime candidate to be next in line to be thrown under the bus," Cooper said.

"I think the president will wait patiently to see what he says and then decide," Gergen replied.

He then offered his analysis of the situation.

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Chris Hayes breaks down the ‘busy day in the criminal chronicles of one President Donald J. Trump’

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MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes connected the dots between all of the bombshell news that was reported Friday in the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump.

"Good God, today has been ten days and this week has been ten weeks," Hayes said. "And there are a million things happening at once."

"Just in the past couple of hours, for instance, we just got this incredibly incriminating and damning behind closed doors testimony from a U.S. foreign service officer that was still supposed to be kind of like the B-story today, the sideshow," he explained. "It's a guy who works in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, a guy named David Holmes. He testified behind closed doors that he could hear president Trump talking on the phone to the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who was an inaugural donor, and they were in a restaurant in Kiev and the president was shouting so loudly on the phone that [Gordon] Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear because it was hurting his eardrum, so then everyone could hear."

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