Keith Raniere, the leader of the Hollywood sex cult NXIVM, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday. Initially, the 60-year-old cult leader was facing just 15 years for charges of sex-trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, and forced labor.
However, Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis used his discretion to increase the sentence to 120 years. Raniere was also ordered to pay a $1.72 million fine.
“To him, the brave victims … are liars. Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. … [He] has therefore failed to demonstrate remorse,” instead maintaining “to this day that he’s done nothing wrong,” Garaufis said
When Raniere spoke to the court he accused the victims of being liars.
“I do believe strongly that I’m innocent of the charges. But it’s also true I see all of this pain. They’re lying for a reason, and that reason stems from me. I do feel deep remorse, but I do not feel remorseful for the crimes I did not commit,” Raniere said.
Smallville actress Allison Mack was a member of the cult and worked in a management position. As second-in-command, it was her job to lure women into the programs under the pretense of female empowerment and self-help workshops, to then convince them to sign up for a more “advanced program” called Dominus Obsequious Sororium, which required these women to basically turn the lives over to cult leader Keith Raniere. Dominus Obsequious Sororium is a quasi-Latin phrase that roughly translates to “Master Over the Slave Women.”
When women joined Raniere’s inner circle, they were forced to sign over their finances to him, starve themselves to maintain a certain weight, and he even had them surgically branded with his initials. Raniere would use blackmail to keep the women from speaking out, by collecting nude photos and damaging evidence on family members.
The cult was finally exposed when the daughter of former Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg became a member. Oxenberg told the New York Times that she became concerned after she saw that her 26-year-old daughter India was extremely emaciated from dieting, and was suffering from serious health problems.
“Some people have said this is a voluntary sorority. The women I have spoken to tell a far different story,” Oxenberg said. “Coercion is not voluntary. Extortion is not voluntary. Blackmail is not voluntary.”
When these accusations hit the news, other women, including actress Sarah Edmondson, came forward to all to tell the same story, of the blackmail, the branding, as well as the forced labor and forced sexual activity.
Raniere is also accused of having a history of pedophilia, with accusations that stretch back over 20 years, involving girls as young as 12.
In 2012, several women were interviewed by the Albany Times Union about the coercive sexual experiences that they had with Raniere when they were young girls. One of the women in the case was found dead of a gunshot wound before she was able to give the interview. Her death was ruled a suicide.
The U.S. attorney’s office requested to have Raniere held without bail in a letter to the court stating that he was a known child predator.