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.

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

– Ruined lives –

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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

‘Devastating, illegal, and unethical’: Trump denounced for imposing sweeping attack on abortion rights nationwide

Published

on

Warning of "severe" consequences for reproductive healthcare, critics condemn the Title X gag rule as "blatantly coercive and a violation of medical ethics and patients' rights."

After President Donald Trump's administration announced Monday that it would immediately begin enforcing a ban on abortion referrals at clinics that receive federal tax dollars, outraged reproductive rights advocates warned about the impact on healthcare nationwide and vowed to keep fighting against what they call the domestic gag rule.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Not one Republican votes to allow debate on resolution condemning Trump’s racist attacks

Published

on

Not a single House Republican on Tuesday voted to proceed to debate on a Democratic resolution condemning President Donald Trump's racist attacks on progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.

The resolution (pdf)—which is on track to pass by Tuesday evening—"strongly condemns President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

The procedural motion to begin debate passed by a vote of 233-190.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

GOP congressman demands Pelosi’s House floor statement be ‘taken down’ after she denounces Trump’s racist tweets

Published

on

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday took to the floor of Congress to read a statement denouncing President Donald Trump's recent statements telling four congresswomen of color to go back to their home country.

"The comments are racist," Pelosi said. "How shameful to hear him continue to defend the offensive words. Words we have heard him repeat not only about our members but about countless others. Our caucus will continue to forcefully respond on these attacks which reflect a fundamental disrespect for the beautiful diversity of America. There’s no place anywhere for the president’s words which are not only divisive but dangerous and have legitimatized an increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

Continue Reading
 
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

close-image