Alleged sex cult members indicted in NY

  • Lawyer Sean Buckley, left, and actress Allison Mack leave Brooklyn Federal Court in New York, on April 24, 2018. (Go Nakamura/New York Daily News/TNS) Go Nakamura

Published: 7/26/2018 12:00:27 AM

NEW YORK — It was a strange reunion Wednesday for members of an alleged sex cult who were indicted in Brooklyn Federal Court on a variety of trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Federal authorities said they pulled back the curtain on self-help organization NXIVM and revealed a cult rife with female slaves amassed and literally branded for the sexual pleasure of its perverse leader.

Alleged cult captain Keith Raniere faces several charges, including sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud.

Also indicted were Raniere’s alleged lieutenant, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, and the cult’s reported owner Nancy Salzman, along with Salzman’s daughter, Lauren, billionaire heiress Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell.

All six defendants pleaded not guilty.

Court papers also revealed that Raniere and Lauren allegedly locked a woman in a room for two years because she was affectionate with a man who was not her “master.” The victim was confined to a room in Clifton Park, N.Y., for nearly two years to punish her for having romantic feelings for someone other than Raniere.

Some of the brainwashed women in the covert group were branded with a symbol that prosecutors say included Raniere’s initials.

“Dynasty” actress Katherine Oxenberg, whose daughter, India, was allegedly a victim of the sex cult, said the indictments came as a huge relief.

“A lot of people’s lives have been ruined — there’s a lot of collateral damage — and why this case is unprecedented, in my opinion, is because it’s the first time someone like Keith Raniere has been arrested before a Jonestown incident,” she said.

“I think it’s going to be a very, very important landmark case.”

Oxenberg was making reference to a cult in Guyana where more than 900 people under the leadership of Jim Jones died in 1978 from apparent cyanide poisoning.

Raniere’s ex and former victim, Toni Natalie, who has attended all proceedings related to the case, described seeing the cult’s alleged owner Salzman as “surreal.”

“I haven’t seen Nancy in 20 years. In a way it was heartbreaking,” she said. “Justice is finally being served, and it can’t be bought. So the fact that, with the Bronfman’s money, they’re still in that courtroom facing those charges is going to give a lot of people a safer feeling.”

Raniere’s lawyers described his accusers as “crazy” and “delusional,” and referenced the “thousands” of people he helped through NXIVM.

“We don’t think there’s anything in the superseding indictment that’s either surprising or altogether all that serious, quite frankly,” said Marc Agnifilo. “I’ve characterized it as sort of a yard sale, you know, it’s just this miscellaneous assortment, kind of ad hoc things _ some of which were 12, 13 or more years old. The alleged sex-trafficking is still the heart of the case; we think we have great defenses to that. We think it didn’t happen.”

Their next court date is Sept. 13.

Raniere is being held in Brooklyn federal jail. A judge shot down his $10 million bail bid in early June.

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(c)2018 New York Daily News

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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): NXIVM-CULT


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