Keith Raniere, former leader of purported self-help group NXIVM, has been convicted on federal charges for his role in what prosecutors describe as a “sex cult.”
On Wednesday, a jury found Raniere guilty on seven charges, including two counts of sex trafficking, racketeering and forced labor conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York. The Associated Press reports that the jury took less than five hours to deliberate after a trial which lasted for about six weeks. Other charges include attempted sex trafficking, wire fraud conspiracy and racketeering conspiracy. Sentencing is to take place on Sept. 25.
“This trial has revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact a massive manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization involved in sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion, compelled abortions, branding, degradation and humiliation,” Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told reporters outside of the Brooklyn federal court house. “Keith Raniere’s crime spree has ended and his victims will finally see justice.”
Raniere is one of several group members who have been charged since the New York Times first broke the NXIVM story in 2017, where it reported that an exclusive group existed within NXIVM and members were required to offer naked photographs as “collateral” in case they revealed the group’s existence. Raniere left to Mexico shortly after the story was published. He was arrested in March 2018 and deported back to the U.S. for trial.
“These serious crimes against humanity are not only shocking, but disconcerting to say the least, and we are putting an end to this torture today,” the FBI said in a statement released March 2018.
Prosecutors alleged Raniere coerced and blackmailed women into sleeping with him, branded women with his initials, had sex with a 15-year-old, took photos of her and confined another woman to a bedroom for 700 days, according to the AP.
Others have been convicted for roles in NXIVM’s illicit behavior including Allison Mack, an actress who appeared in Smallville; Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor company; and mother-daughter duo Nancy and Lauren Salzman. Raniere co-founded NXIVM with Nancy Salzman in 1998.