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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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.”

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Reporting by Brendan Pierson; editing by Tom Brown


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Disturbing video exposes the dangerous message a State Patrol officer told team: ‘Don’t kill them, but hit them hard’

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Temperatures soared 10 degrees Celsius above average last month in Siberia, home to much of Earth's permafrost, as the world experienced its hottest May on record, the European Union's climate monitoring network said Friday.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said May 2020 was 0.68C warmer than the average May from 1981 to 2010, with above average temperatures across parts of Alaska, Europe, North America, South America, swathes of Africa and Antarctica.

Globally, "the average temperature for the twelve months to May 2020 is close to 1.3C above the (pre-industrial) level", Copernicus said referring to the benchmark by which global warming is often measured.

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Trump stokes division in Republican Party as he rages at Sen. Lisa Murkowski

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As the Republican Party is struggling to defend him in a moment of nationwide strife, President Donald Trump decided Thursday night to fuel divisions within GOP rather than make nice.

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