Quantcast
Connect with us

Convicted on all seven counts: US sex cult leader Keith Raniere attracted the rich and famous

Published

on

A US jury on Wednesday convicted a “self-help” guru of racketeering, sex trafficking and other crimes for his leadership of a cult-like organization of sex slaves he branded like cattle.

Keith Raniere, 58, coerced a string of women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of a life-coaching group he founded in New York state.

Nxivm — pronounced Nexium — had proved a huge draw since its 2003 launch, attracting a coterie of rich and famous devotees such as the “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, and spreading into cities across the United States.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Raniere, who was arrested in Mexico in 2018, swapped the personal development training courses for sex sessions as the head of a group of up to 20 women — the youngest of whom was just 15.

He was convicted after a six-week trial on all seven charges, which also included extortion and sexual exploitation of a child, and faces up to a full life term when he is sentenced on September 25.

“This trial has revealed that 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,” Richard Donoghue, a federal prosecutor in New York, said after the verdict.

Followers signed up for $5,000, five-day self-help courses, but some were then financially and sexually exploited and had to follow a restrictive diet as Raniere — known as “Vanguard” — exerted his control, the jury was told.

ADVERTISEMENT

Getty/AFP/File / Drew Angerer Members of the team prosecuting Nxvium sex cult leader Keith Raniere are seen pushing carts of documents into court as the trial began in May 2019

In 2015, he established a faction within the group called DOS, a pyramid structure in which the women were “slaves” and “Grand Master” Raniere sat at the top.

The “slaves” were made to have sex with Raniere, hand over personal information and compromising photos — and some of the women were branded with Raniere’s initials as other members held them down.

One woman in her 30s, identified only as Sylvie, recounted during her testimony at the trial that she had joined Nxivm in an effort to grow as a person, but that Raniere and others in the organization systematically tore her down and she eventually became a “slave” in DOS.

ADVERTISEMENT

– Ruined lives –

“His crimes, and the crimes of his co-conspirators, ruined marriages, careers, fortunes and lives,” Donoghue said.

While the prosecution portrayed Raniere as a psychological manipulator, the defense asked the jury to focus on whether they saw Raniere’s actions as legal, even if they found them immoral.

ADVERTISEMENT

The defendant, who vowed through his legal team to appeal the convictions, insisted that all sexual relations within the group were consensual.

AFP/File / Don EMMERTActress Allison Mack, who was charged as a co-conspirator of Keith Raniere in the Nxivm sex-cult case, is seen arriving at a New York court in January 2019

“I can’t say I’m terribly surprised,” defense attorney Marc Agnifilo said, however. “I told the jury in my opening statement that it was an uphill battle.”

“I was a little surprised with the fact that it was every count,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Five other people were initially charged in the case, including Mack, a German-born American actress who also appeared in the FX sitcom “Wilfred,” and Seagram liquor company heiress Clare Bronfman, who was accused of using more than $100 million of her $2.6 billion estimated net worth to fund the group.

They all pleaded guilty, however, and neither Mack nor Bronfman were required to testify.

Television network HBO said in April it would produce a documentary series on the case.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

WATCH: Ben Carson thanks God for Trump in bizarre prayer — and then asks Him to ‘Keep America Great’

Published

on

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Monday opened up the White House cabinet meeting with a bizarre prayer that explicitly thanked God for the existence of President Donald Trump.

Carson began his prayer with a standard invocation thanking God for "the blessings that you have bestowed upon this country."

After that, though, Carson gave God a thumbs-up for the work He's done in putting Trump in the White House.

"We thank You for President Trump, who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism," Carson said. "We ask you give him strength to endure and wisdom to lead and to recognize you as the sovereign of the universe, with the solution to everything."

Continue Reading

Facebook

Bill Barr sparks anxiety within the CIA as he investigates ‘origins’ of Mueller’s Russia probe: security analyst

Published

on

As the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, investigates the origins of the Russia investigation, some CIA operatives who played a role in gathering intelligence for Robert Mueller's probe are hiring lawyers, according to NBC News national security reporter Ken Dilanian.

According to various reports, President Trump has granted Barr with "expansive powers" for the investigation and he's reportedly seeking to question CIA analysts.

Speaking to MSNBC's Morning Joe this Monday, Dilanian said that while it's not clear what Barr's intentions are, many in the CIA are "very rattled" at the news.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

White House personnel chief delivers a new blow to Trump: Top DHS candidates are not legally qualified

Published

on

President Donald Trump's quest to find an acting replacement for departed Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen was dealt a significant blow on Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House personnel office chief Sean Doocey has informed the president that he doesn't believe either of his top two picks are legally qualified to hold the position.

As the Journal notes, "federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position." Neither Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, nor Mark Morgan, who leads Customs and Border Protection, meet those standards, Doocey determined.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image