A supposed self-help guru, Keith Raniere, groomed ladies for intercourse, subjecting them to “disgrace and humiliation” and threatening to reveal their “deepest, darkest secrets and techniques” in the event that they didn’t comply together with his needs, a federal prosecutor stated on Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Lawyer Tanya Hajjar introduced opening statements on the sex-trafficking trial of Raniere, the previous chief of an upstate New York group referred to as NXIVM (pronounced “nexium”) that’s been likened to a cult.
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The prosecutor alleged that Raniere had intercourse with a 15-year-old woman and took nude photographs of her; she additionally described how some feminine followers have been branded with Raniere’s initials.
Authorities have stated the branding was finished utilizing a cautery pen with out anesthesia by a physician who’s now underneath investigation by state well being officers.
Eight Jane Does in that case have refused to reply questions, saying by way of their attorneys “the branding was a voluntary free expression of non-public beliefs.”
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However Raniere’s trial is predicted to function testimony from ladies who declare they have been compelled to have intercourse with Raniere. 5 of Raniere’s co-defendants, together with Smallville actor Allison Mack, have already pleaded responsible firstly of April.
Mack pleaded responsible to allegations that she manipulated ladies into turning into intercourse slaves for Raniere. She wept within the courtroom as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the ladies who prosecutors say have been exploited. Mack, 36, is extensively often called certainly one of 58-year-old Raniere’s prime confidantes.
“I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions have been to assist folks and I used to be flawed,” Mack advised a decide in federal court docket in Brooklyn, N.Y.
After months of reflection since her arrest, “I do know I can and can be a greater individual,” Mack stated. Her sentencing is ready for Sept. 11.
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Raniere denies legal wrongdoing; his attorneys say his relationships have been consensual.
In court docket papers, defence attorneys have stated the alleged victims have been by no means abused. The ladies have been as an alternative described as “impartial, good, curious adults” searching for “happiness, success and which means.”
However legions of NXIVM defectors and detractors have referred to as the self-help rhetoric a brainwashing machine that has destroyed lives.
Promotional materials for the now-disbanded NXIVM as soon as hailed Raniere as a “scientist, mathematician, thinker, entrepreneur, educator, inventor and creator” who has “devoted his life to growing new instruments for human empowerment, expression and ethics.”
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“The defendant pretended to be a guru,” Hajjar stated, “however he was a legal.”
Prosecutors stated Tuesday that Raniere’s victims included three Mexican sisters, certainly one of whom was solely 15. The federal government plans to introduce specific pictures of the youngest sister seized from Raniere’s pc as proof.
One other sister was confined to a room for 2 years, Najjar stated.
If convicted, Raniere faces as much as life in jail.
— With recordsdata from Chris Jancelewicz and Reuters