BROOKLYN, NY – The leader of a notorious sex cult accused of luring women to upstate New York to be branded, starved and raped was guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday, prosecutors said.
Keith Raniere, 58, was found guilty of racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy for his role as head of Nxivm, a cult he ran with former Smallville star Allison Mack, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Jurors found Raniere guilty one day after a six-week trial that detailed his alleged sexual abuse of teenaged girls and the group’s enslavement, branding and rape of women in Clifton Park, a suburb outside Albany, court records show.
Prosecutor Moira Penza presented evidence during the trial that Raniere had women branded after they came to participate in a self help course but were tied up and forced to sleep with their new “master,” court records show.
Jurors watched video of Raniere telling his followers “some little children are perfectly happy” with what state law classified as sexual abuse, according to a Times Union report.
But Raniere’s attorney Marc Agnifilo argued his client’s organization was a pro-woman group that did humanitarian work and he could not be convicted for having an extravagant lifestyle, Rolling Stone reported.
“There’s been no shortage of intimate partners for Keith Raniere pre-DOS. He’s had them his whole life,” Agnifilo reportedly said. “This is just his lifestyle.”
Several of Raniere’s partners have already pleaded guilty.
Seagram’s Liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, accused of bankrolling the cult, and Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering-related charges in April.
Mother and daughter Nancy and Lauren Salzman both pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges in March, court records show.
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