Hollywood Actress, Billionaire Heiress Face Jail Term As Court Sentences NXIVM Sex Cult Leader To 120 Years In Prison

 NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere has been sentenced to 120 years behind bars after a dramatic hearing where he was confronted by 15 of his victims.

Raniere, 60, had been facing a maximum sentence of life in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking of children, conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor in June 2019.

Keith Raniere

As the founder of NXIVM, the court had heard how the cult-like group kept women on starvation diets, branded them with his initials, and ordered them to have sex with him. 

His sentencing was delayed on Tuesday because so many people had shown up to attend it. India Oxenberg, the daughter of Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg, was one of those who spoke. 

She said Raniere treated her like his 'human science experiment', calling him an 'entitled little princess' and a sexual predator. She lamented that she 'may have to spend the rest of my life with Keith Raneire's initials seared into me.'   

Raniere's lawyers asked that he be sentenced to 15 years. But after telling the judge he had 'no remorse' for the crimes because he 'didn't commit them', Judge Nicholas Garaufis handed down the sentence that means he will spend the rest of his life in prison.    

Branding Raniere 'ruthless and unyielding' in crimes that were 'particularly egregious' because he targeted girls and young women, Judge Garaufis said: 'To him, the brave victims… are liars. Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. … [He] has therefore failed to demonstrate remorse.'  

He handed down the unusually high sentence in federal court in Brooklyn after hearing anguished statements by victims of a sex-trafficking conspiracy that resulted in Raniere's conviction last year, along with unrepentant remarks from the defendant himself.

'I do believe I am innocent of the charges. ... It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all,' Raniere said. 

Because of social distancing rules, fewer people are allowed in courtrooms now than before. More than an hour after Raniere's scheduled hearing time, court officials were trying to determine whether or not they should open a second courtroom for the overspill of media and victims who had shown up at Brooklyn Criminal Court on Tuesday. 

Eventually, it got underway with the statement of a woman who called herself Camila. Raniere moved her and her sister to the US from Mexico in 2005. She called him a 'monster'.  

Fifteen women gave victim impact statements on Tuesday. Among them were former girlfriends of Raniere and former victims. They labeled him a 'parasite' and a 'psychological terrorist'. 

'He screwed with my mind for so long. It is difficult for me to utter his name, so I will only refer to him as 'he'. 

'I can still hear his voice in my head — it continues to be a daily struggle,' Camila said. 

She also told the court that she was 15 and he was 45 when he raped her. He denies it. 

'He manipulated me for what he wanted. 

'I became unreachable to my parents, my brother, my friends until I had nobody to worry about me. He knew the things that mattered most to me and what I feared and used that against me,' she said 

Raniere was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking but not rape.  

'He told me to keep it a secret, and he would ask me to sneak out of the home to meet in a place where we were isolated from everyone.  

'He took naked pictures of me — the experience of being photographed is seared in my memory,' she said. 

She also told the court that he forced her to weigh less than 100lbs and that he once made her get an abortion. 

The likelihood of leniency had seemed to dissipate with the recent sentencing of Clare Bronfman, 41, an heir to the Seagram's liquor fortune, for her role in the cult. 

Bronfman was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison. Prosecutors had only sought five years. Ex-followers told the judge that Bronfman for years had used her wealth to try to silence NXIVM defectors. 

Clare Bronfman

Former NXIVM member and supporter of Raniere, Marc Elliot, said: 'We all should be fighting for due process no matter how much you don't like it or how inconvenient it is. Because if someone or society ever turns on you, you better hope to God that due process and laws are still standing to protect you.'

Raniere's ex-girlfriend, Toni Natalie - who he dated when in the 1990s - said he needed to be locked away for life 'as they did Charles Manson.' 

Raniere founded NXIVM in Albany, New York, in 1998 and between then and 2017, recruited more than 17,000 people to it, promising them self-help. 

But within the secretive organization there was an even more clandestine sub-sect which he was the master of. 

Named DOS, the sub-sect involved women being his sexual slaves and submitting themselves entirely to his control. 

They were brandished with his initials, starved, sleep deprived and forced to engage in group sex and blackmailed with 'collateral' they had provided in the form of incriminating photos, videos or information about them or their families.  

Raniere also punished young women including a teenager who prosecutors said he held in a room for two years as punishment because she'd shown a romantic interest in another man. 

Allison Mack

Among others involved in the cult were actresses Allison Mack - who is in jail awaiting her own sentencing - and India Oxenberg, the daughter of Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg who escaped and cooperated with the authorities to convict Raniere. 

She previously told how she was brainwashed for seven years into thinking Raniere was helping her. 

'What I thought I was learning was self-help and personal growth. What I was learning was the opposite. It was inhumane,' she said in a recent interview. 

India was among those expected to give victim impact statements at Raniere's sentencing on Tuesday morning. 

She said she'd been 'paining' over what to say to him when they came face to face. 

The 29-year-old was seen arriving at court wearing a mask. 

Raniere himself maintains he has done nothing wrong and he still enjoys the support of some loyal followers. 

Fifty people wrote letter to the judge asking for leniency. 

Nicki Clyne is one of those who stands by Raniere. She was seen standing outside the courtroom on Tuesday morning before proceedings got underway. 

Clyne is married to Smallville actress Allison Mack but authorities say it is a sham marriage to help Clyne, who is Canadian, circumvent immigration laws. 

She maintains that everyone involved in NXIVM consented to their participation. 

In a video project with other followers titled the 'Dossier Project', she said: 'Hopefully anyone watching this will see that we're all grown a** woman.'  

Bronfman and Mack were arrested in April 2018, a month after Raniere was taken into custody in Mexico. 

They both made bail then in April 2019, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges as part of plea deals to reduce their sentences. 

Bronfman was sentenced to 81 months in a federal prison but Mack has not yet been sentenced.

Raniere founded Nxivm with Nancy  Salzman, a psychiatric nurse.

It was designed to be a self-help group and was based out of Albany, New York.

Executive Success Programs, Inc., was another name for the courses. Raniere had, until then, tried and failed multiple times to launch his own business. 

He'd grown up in Suffern, New York, with divorced parents, one of whom worked in advertising. 

After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, upstate New York, in 1982 then tried his hand at marketing before launching Nxivm. 

At the time he founded the organization, he was in a relationship with Toni Natalie, the woman who introduced him to Salzman.

Natalie later recalled Salzman becoming enthralled with Raniere, as many other women who met him did.   

One of the turning points in the cult came in 2002 when Salzman and Raniere recruited members of the influential Bronfman family. 

The Bronfmans come from the Seagram liquor empire and are heiresses to billions. 

According to his indictment, Raniere tricked Clare Bronfman into giving him millions over the years.

Her sister, Sara, was not as enthusiastically involved. It was through the Bronfman sisters that the first signs of trouble in Nxivm emerged. 

In 2003, Clare told their father that she'd loaned Nxivm $2million. He became suspicious and publicly accused Raniere of running a cult in a Forbes article. 

For the next several years, they tried to legitimize themselves with wholesome associations, all the while running the cult of sexual servitude to Raniere behind closed doors. 

In 2009, the Dalai Lama even appeared on stage with Raniere at an event in Albany, NY.   

In 2011, actresses Allison Mack and India Oxenberg became some of the newest recruits to the group. 

Mack rose through the ranks quickly and grew close to Raniere, who was referred to as the 'Vanguard' to cult members

In 2015, DOS was created. It stands for 'Dominus Obsequious Sororium' - which translates to Master over Slave Women in Latin.

It was a sub-sect within the cult that involved women being branded with Raniere's initials and having to perform sexual servitude. 

Oxenberg has told in the past how she was enslaved to Mack. 

Part of the 'discipline' training was controlling how many calories people ate.

She would have to ask permission for when she could eat, she has since revealed. 

Raniere's indictment refers to DOS as the a 'pyramid'. 

Almost all of the DOS recruits were 'vulnerable'.  

'When identifying prospective slaves, masters often targeted women who were currently experiencing difficulties in their lives, including dissatisfaction with the pace of their advancement in Nxivm. 

'While avoiding the words 'master' and 'slave' in the initial recruiting pitch, a master would tell her prospective slave that the prospective slave had an opportunity to join an organization that would change her life,' Raniere's indictment reads. 

'The master then told the prospective slave that, in order to learn more, she had to provide 'collateral,' which was meant to ensure that the prospective slave would keep what she was about to learn a secret. 

'Collateral consisted of material or information that the prospective slave would not want revealed because it would be ruinous to the prospective slave herself and/or someone close to her.'

Raniere was also charged with trafficking at least one young woman from Mexico. 

The woman, Daniela, had been awarded a scholarship at a prestigious school in Switzerland but she gave it up to travel to the US and join NXIVM. 

At Raniere's trial, she testified that he kept her confined in a room for nearly two years because she'd shown romantic interest in another man. 

She said she was controlled by him after he sneaked her into the country illegally from Canada. 

'Sex meant access when it came to Keith...I was without a doubt a captive from a moment I was illegal in the country. 

'As time progressed it was clear to me I could not leave,' she told his trial.

She said she first had sex with him on 'dingy' sheets when she was 18 but that her younger sister slept with him when she was just 16.

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