The previous chief of a purported self-help group was convicted Wednesday of federal costs that centered on lurid particulars of what prosecutors known as a secret society of “intercourse slaves” inside a group of followers in upstate New York.
A jury in federal court docket in Brooklyn took lower than 5 hours to seek out Keith Raniere, the chief of so-called “intercourse cult” NXIVM, responsible on all counts of intercourse trafficking and different costs accusing him of coercing ladies into undesirable intercourse utilizing systematic disgrace and humiliation.
Raniere listened attentively, however confirmed no seen response as he discovered the decision.
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Prosecutors had instructed jurors that somebody generally known as “Vanguard” and revered as “the neatest man on the earth” amongst some followers was really a creepy con man who barely bought passing grades in school.
The sorority, typically known as “The Vow,” was created “to fulfill the defendant’s need for intercourse, energy and management,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Moira Penza mentioned in closing arguments.
Among the many extra damning allegations towards Raniere have been that he had some ladies branded together with his initials and that he began having intercourse with one in all his followers beginning at age 15. Prosecutors mentioned he took a sequence of nude pictures of the teenager that have been proven at trial, one after the other, to the eight ladies and 4 males who comprised the jury.
Raniere stored the kid pornography stashed in his non-public examine as “a trophy” of “his sexual conquest,” Penza mentioned.
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The defence argued Raniere was a real believer in unconventional means for self-improvement and that each one his sexual encounters with feminine followers of his group have been consensual. His behaviour may very well be seen as “repulsive and offensive, however we don’t convict folks on this nation for being repulsive or offensive,” lawyer Marc Agnifilo mentioned in his closings.
Raniere, 58, was arrested at a Mexican hideout in 2018 following an investigation his Albany-area group, that after had a global following with a foothold in Hollywood however was known as a cult by critics. His adherents included TV actor Allison Mack, finest identified for her position as a good friend of a younger Superman within the sequence Smallville, and Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress, Clare Bronfman.
Raniere’s group started to crumble amid sensational experiences about The Vow alleging its members have been held down and branded in ceremonies at a “sorority home” for them that had a mock dungeon.
Mack and Bronfman, who have been named as defendants with Raniere in a federal indictment, pleaded responsible earlier than they might go to trial with him. They didn’t testify, leaving a cooperating member of his internal circle and three victims from the key sorority as the important thing witnesses.
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The cooperator described how feminine “masters” compelled “slaves” for Raniere to surrender “collateral” — nude pictures and different materials that may smash them if ever made public – to maintain them in line.
One of many victims, whose names have been withheld to guard her privateness, described being confined to a bed room for greater than 700 days on orders from Raniere as punishment for exhibiting curiosity in one other man. One other defined how Raniere lured her to a house when she was blind-folded and sure to a desk in order that one other girl may carry out a intercourse act on her; and the third recounted making up an excuse to go away the group so she may keep away from finishing an task from her “grasp” — Allison Mack — to “seduce” Raniere.
READ MORE: Prosecutor in NXIVM case says Keith Raniere groomed ladies for intercourse cult
Agnifilo, the defence lawyer, sought to level jurors to proof of textual content and different messages between Raniere and the lady he mentioned confirmed they’d caring relationships that ended with “no laborious emotions.” And because the group by no means launched any of the slaves’ collateral, “The place’s the extortion?” he requested.
However with the victims’ tales of abuse by the hands of Raniere, Penza mentioned, “A lightweight has been proven into the darkness and the defendant’s crimes have been uncovered.”
Raniere faces a potential life sentence. He can be formally sentenced on Sept. 25, 2019.
— With a file from Chris Jancelewicz