Tuesday October 27, 2020
The founder of a New York “sex cult” will have to spend the rest of his life behind bars. A court is sentencing Keith Raniere to 120 years after his June 2019 conviction of sex trafficking, sexual exploitation and fraud, among other things.
Self-help guru Keith Raniere, who exploited followers and sex slaves, has been sentenced to 120 years in prison in the USA. A federal judge in New York sentenced the founder of the cult-like organization Nxivm to life imprisonment. The 60-year-old was found guilty on seven counts in June 2019, including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old and forming a criminal organization.
Raniere is said to have used the self-help group Nxivm, which he founded, as a cover to sexually exploit women. He is said to have kept up to 20 women like sex slaves in the meantime. He made his claim to ownership clear with branding on the skin of his disciples. Raniere founded Nxivm (pronounced: Nexium) in the late 1990s in New York State. The charismatic leader drew numerous prominent and wealthy women under his spell. Members paid up to $ 5,000 for a five-day self-help course.
“Proud” of his “life’s work”
Many women were exploited financially and sexually by Raniere. They had to hand in compromising photos, letters, and other documents so that Raniere could publish them in case the women wanted to leave Nxivm. In a sub-organization called DOS founded by Raniere, women were referred to as “slaves” and he himself as “grandmasters”. The women always had to be available for sex with him. His youngest victim was 15 years old.
Raniere has always denied the allegations against himself. In a letter submitted before the sentence was imposed, he was rather “proud” of his “life’s work”. He never intentionally harmed anyone, and the sex was consensual. Raniere fled to Mexico in October 2017 after members were able to break free and the New York Times revealed the organization’s activities. He was arrested the following year in a luxury villa in Puerto Vallarta. Two documentary series have already appeared on Raniere and Nxivm, one of them on HBO.
In the course of the legal processing of the scandal five co-defendants of Ranieres pleaded guilty, among them the actress Allison Mack, known from the TV series “Smallville” and “Wilfred”. In late September, Canadian spirits heiress Clara Bronfman, who had supported Raniere for years, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.