Keith Raniere, the man who ran a sex cult under the guise of a women’s empowerment self-help group, was found guilty yesterday on all charges.
The 58-year-old was convicted of racketeering, wire fraud, forced labor conspiracy, and sex trafficking among other charges. He faces multiple life sentences for his crimes.
Raniere founded Nxivm in 2003 as a group that allegedly focused on helping women feel empowered. It turned out to be a pyramid scheme with a deeply disturbing secret tier at the very top called “DOS” or “Dominant Over Submissive” where Raniere abused, starved, and branded young women as his property.
Shockingly, more than 16,000 people enrolled in his self-help classes, which cost thousands of dollars to attend. While he was preaching empowerment, Raniere was secretly committing terrible acts of violence and manipulation. As many as 150 women and underaged girls were drawn into the DOS group to become Raniere’s sex slaves.
His right-hand woman was Smallville actress Allison Mack (pictured above in happier times). She was instrumental in recruiting attractive young women into the group–including, briefly, her costar Kristen Kreuk. Mack pleaded guilty to several felony charges in April.
She is awaiting sentencing in September and could face up to 40 years in prison for racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.
Clare Bronfman–the heiress to the Seagram fortune–also became a leading figure in the organization. Bronfman allegedly donated around $150 million to Raniere and Nxivm, bankrolling the organization as it systematically preyed upon vulnerable women.
Bronfman was just 23 when she became tangled up in the cult. She also pleaded guilty to several charges surrounding credit card fraud. Bronfman faces more than 2 years in prison.
One woman, in particular, was celebrating the verdict. Catherine Oxenberg, former Dynasty actress and the daughter of European royalty, fought to free her daughter from the cult. India Oxenberg became involved in the cult in 2011, gradually rising through the ranks to become one of the inner circle who was branded with Raniere’s initials.
He reportedly blackmailed and starved her to maintain his control.
After leaving the courthouse, Catherine Oxenberg had a few choice words to say about Raniere: “F*** him. He’s done. F***ing a**hole.”
Barbara Bouchey, who briefly dated Raniere before leaving Nxivm in 2009, was shocked when Raniere’s lawyer apologized to her after the verdict and expressed sympathy about how hard it must have been to go through what she did.
Bouchey, who was never involved with the DOS group, shed relieved tears after Raniere was found guilty and would likely serve multiple life sentences.
“That’s where he belongs. In jail for life. Because he’s got crazy compartments in that mind. And he can’t be rehabilitated in my opinion. That means if he gets out he’s only going to reinvent himself and repackage it and go on thinking what he was doing was good.”
Testimony lasted 6 weeks during the trial, yet jurors deliberated less than 5 hours before delivering the guilty verdict. Raniere will be sentenced in September and held without bail until then.