The leader of NXIVM, a purported self-help organization that engaged in international multilevel marketing, has been sentenced to 120 years in prison for running a sex trafficking ring through a secret women’s sub-sect of the controversial Albany-based group.
Keith Raniere, 60, whose promises of personal improvement attracted celebrities and wealthy participants, was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York at a lengthy trial that ended in June 2019 on charges including racketeering, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy.
Raniere, known as “Vanguard” to NXIVM devotees, used his influence to lure women into what prosecutors say was a private cult, where he had ultimate control over every aspect of the lives of his female “slaves,” compelling them to do chores and other tasks free.
Women in the group known as DOS, an acronym for a Latin name Raniere had chosen, were used by Raniere for sex and were branded with Raniere’s initials in secret ceremonies. Raniere, who was polygamous and involved with a number of NXIVM women, had a preference for ultrathin women and ensured DOS victims were emaciated-looking by monitoring their paltry calorie intake and shaming them for eating.
Much of the case centered around the sexual relationship he began with a 15-year-old around 2005. Nude photos of the victim were discovered on collections Raniere kept on hard drives.
Jurors heard a recording of Raniere questioning the legitimacy of age of consent laws.
The girl’s parents, from Mexico, were NXIVM believers and sent her and her older sister into to the Upstate New York community, where they were abused by Raniere, trial evidence showed.