The previous religious chief of a purported upstate New York self-improvement group that is been known as a cult and a pyramid scheme has been discovered responsible on seven counts together with intercourse trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy costs. Jurors startedWednesday morning and introduced they’d reached a verdict about 4 hours later.
They had been handed the case following a trial in Brooklyn federal courtroom that has given a disturbing inside look contained in the group, NXIVM. Since early Might, jurors have been listening to testimony from what prosecutors say are former “intercourse slaves” who spoke concerning the torment of being branded with Raniere’s initials — their “supreme grasp” who was generally known as “Vanguard” and revered as “the neatest man on the planet” amongst some followers. The ladies mentioned they had been duped right into a becoming a member of a secretive NXIVM sub-sect generally known as DOS underneath the pretenses that it was a girls’s empowerment group. However, they mentioned they had been pressured by different girls who had been their “masters” to show over “collateral,” together with nude pictures, and groomed for intercourse with Raniere.
“For seven weeks, this trial has revealed Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in actual fact a grasp manipulator, a con man, and against the law boss,” mentioned U.S. Legal professional Richard P. Donoghue. Donoghue mentioned Raniere and others “ruined marriages, careers, fortunes and lives,” calling him a “modern-day Svengali.”
“Keith Raniere’s crime spree has ended, and his victims will lastly see justice,” Donoghue mentioned.
Raniere’s adherents included TV actress Allison Mack, finest identified for her position as a good friend of a younger Superman within the collection “Smallville;” a Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress, Clare Bronfman; and a daughter of TV actress Catherine Oxenberg of “Dynasty” fame.
“This was a really scary group,” Oxenberg mentioned after the decision. Her daughter India left NXIVM after her mom grew to become an outspoken critic of it.
“I needed to save a toddler who was caught within the grips of this cult, so I wasn’t going to cease till I succeeded,” Oxenberg mentioned.
Former members of the group had been emotional exterior the federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon, expressing pleasure and aid that Raniere has been held accountable.
Susan Dones, part of the “NXIVM 9” group of former members who raised alarm bells, mentioned the decision is “justice for all of us that had been duped by this complete gang of criminals.”
“It is a tremendous day,” mentioned Dones, who left the group in 2009.
Barbara Bouchey, Raniere’s former girlfriend and one other whistleblower, mentioned she’s been relentlessly harassed by the group since she defected in 2009. She cried as she described a newfound “feeling of freedom and security.”
“To me, it is a new day, to stay unencumbered by the specter of what he may do subsequent,” Bouchey mentioned.
Throughout closing arguments this week, Assistant U.S. Legal professional Moira Penza recounted testimony that Raniere had a few of his brainwashed feminine followers starved, pressured one to have intercourse with one other lady and confined a 3rd to a room for almost two years for defying his orders. The jury has additionally seen alleged little one pornography involving a teenage lady prosecutors say Raniere coerced into intercourse.
Penza on Monday mentioned Raniere used the group to “faucet right into a unending circulate of ladies and cash.” DOS, she mentioned, was fashioned “to fulfill the defendant’s need for intercourse, energy and management.”
However attorneys for Raniere, 58, mentioned his sexual encounters with feminine followers had been consensual and he was a real believer in unconventional means for self-improvement.
Raniere’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo mentioned Raniere had a “disgusting life-style,” the New York Each day Information reported, however argued the federal government had not confirmed its case. Agnifilo argued that the so-called collateral wasn’t significant as a result of it was by no means launched.
“Keith maintains his innocence. It is a very unhappy day for him,” Agnifilo instructed reporters after the decision. “I believe he is not shocked, however he maintains that he did not imply to do something fallacious.”
Agnifilo mentioned Raniere has instructed him that he has regrets, however Agnifilo would not element what Raniere instructed him. He mentioned Raniere plans to enchantment.
Raniere stood trial alone after 5 former members of his interior circle negotiated plea offers, together with Mack and Bronfman. Final yr, after a New York Occasions exposé on the group and reviews that investigators had been interviewing some girls who had defected from DOS, Raniere fled to Mexico. He was discovered staying with Mack and different girls in a luxurious villa and brought into custody on a U.S. warrant.
Mack was initially indicted on intercourse trafficking costs for allegedly recruiting girls into DOS, however pleaded responsible to racketeering in April, admitting she collected “collateral” from two girls at Raniere’s course and threatened to make it public in the event that they did not carry out “so-called acts of affection.”
Bronfman, who bankrolled Raniere and his program of intense self-improvement courses, admitted she harbored somebody who was dwelling within the U.S. illegally for unpaid “labor and providers” and that she dedicated bank card fraud on behalf of Raniere. Each Bronfman and Mack, who await sentencing, mentioned they wished to assist individuals by way of NXIVM and apologized for his or her actions.
Raniere faces life in jail. His sentencing was set for September.