On the day jury selection was to begin in the trial for actor Allison Mack – known for her role as Chloe Sullivan, close friend of Superman in CW’s Smallville – who was “facing seven federal felonies in connection with her role as a high-ranking leader” and alleged co-founder of what was purported to be a female mentorship group, ‘women’s self-help’ and ‘women’s empowerment sorority,’ known as NXIVM founded in 1998, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of racketeering, USA Today’s Democrat & Chronicle reported.
According to an unsealed indictment out of the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York released April 20, 2018, Mack was arrested and charged with, among other charges, “sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy,” along with co-founder and creator of the “spiritual leader” Keith Raniere.
Eastern District of New York – Founder of “NXIVM,” a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Actor Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Conspiracy – Defendants Allegedly Branded Their Victims and Forced Them to Participate in Sex ActsNY DOJ
Raniere was arrested and ordered detained after an arrest warrant was granted in February 2018 and was subsequently indicted along with Mack by a grand jury April 19, 2018.
According to the DOJ press release on the arrest and indictment of Allison Mack:
Nxivm and The Source
According to court filings, during the past 20 years, Raniere established a series of purported self-help programs within his umbrella organization “Nxivm” (pronounced NEX-i-um). Nxivm is based in Albany, New York and has operated centers in the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America. Nxivm maintains features of a pyramid scheme, as its courses cost thousands of dollars each and participants (“Nxians”) are encouraged to pay for additional classes and to recruit others to take classes in order to rise within the ranks of Nxivm. A number of Nxians were residents of the Eastern District of New York when they were recruited, and Nxivm has held promotional recruiting events in Brooklyn. Mack is credited in publicly available materials with co-creating a Nxivm program, called The Source, which recruited actors.
As detailed in court filings, in 2015, Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm called “DOS,” an acronym that stands for a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions,” or “The Vow.” DOS operated with levels of women “slaves” headed by “masters.” Slaves were expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owed service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid. Raniere stood alone at the top of the pyramid. Other than Raniere, all members of DOS were women. Mack is one of the women in the first level of the pyramid immediately below Raniere.
Mack and other DOS masters recruited DOS slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses that the Nxivm curriculum taught were common in women. Mack and other DOS masters concealed Raniere’s status at the top of the pyramid from new recruits.
As a pre-condition to joining DOS, women were required to provide “collateral,” which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets. DOS slaves were told that their collateral could be released for any number of reasons, including telling anyone about DOS’s existence or leaving DOS. Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere’s initials. During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and a master would order one slave to film the branding while the others restrained the slave being branded.
According to court filings, Mack directly or implicitly required her slaves, including Jane Does 1 and 2, as identified in the Indictment, to engage in sexual activity with Raniere. In exchange for this, Mack received financial and other benefits from Raniere. Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 believed that if they did not participate in those activities with Raniere, their collateral would be released.
“Now, three defendants remain, including Raniere and Segram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, the group’s major funder.”
According to the Associated Press, “Mack, 36, wept as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Keith Raniere and the purported self-help group called NXIVM.”
“I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people, and I was wrong,” Mack told a Brooklyn judge, saying “that after months of reflection since her arrest, “I know I can and will be a better person.””
The actress is to be sentenced Sept. 11 on two racketeering counts that each carry maximum terms of 20 years in prison. However, it’s likely she would face far less time under sentencing guidelines.
The plea means Mack will avoid going to trial with Raniere, wealthy heiress Clare Bronfman and another member of Raniere’s inner circle, Kathy Russell. All have pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
About two hours after Mack’s guilty plea, potential jurors got their first glimpse of the jailed Raniere at a proceeding where they were instructed on questionnaires to be filled out as a first step in the selection process. Opening statements are scheduled for April 29 for a trial that is expected to last up to six weeks.AP
Trials set for remaining defendants as other engage in plea deals.
In recent weeks, federal prosecutors have acknowledged in court that Mack and some of her co-defendants had been engaged in plea negotiations.
Nancy Salzman, NXIVM co-founder and president, pleaded guilty last month to one count of racketeering conspiracy, confessing to stealing email addresses and passwords of NXIVM critics and altering a tape used in a lawsuit against one.
Her daughter, Lauren Salzman, also pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy last month.
With Mack’s expected plea, three defendants remain: Raniere, Bronfman and Kathy Russell, a NXIVM bookkeeper.
Raniere, 58, attended high school in Suffern, Rockland County, before moving to the Albany area to attend the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He gained a devoted following through NXIVM, which taught expensive self-help classes that were based on Raniere’s teachings.
But Raniere’s critics — including former girlfriend Toni Natalie of the Rochester area, who has spoken out publicly against him for years — have long accused NXIVM of operating like a cult, aggressively suing former members who went on to criticize the group.
Federal prosecutors got involved after Sarah Edmondson, an actress from Vancouver, went public in an account in The New York Times with news that women in DOS, the secret sorority, had been branded on their pubic region with Raniere’s initials.
The account also detailed Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg’s fight to rescue her daughter from the group.Democrat & Chronicle
According to a Newsweek article published May 1, 2018 – NXIVM: How Is Former Trump Adviser Roger Stone Connected to ‘Cult’ Allegedly Led By Allison Mack, Keith Raniere? – Stone “confirmed to Newsweek that he worked as a lobbyist for the group … for about two months in 2007.”
When Stone audited one of NXIVM’s workshops, he said it mostly appealed to women looking for a confidence boost.
“They appeared to be a self-help group conducting classes for what appeared to be middle-aged housewives seeking to build their self-esteem,” the former lobbyist-turned-commentator told Newsweek.” I worked for them for two months, in which I convinced them that they needed a lawyer, not a lobbyist.”
Even then, however, it was evident that the operation was bankrolled in large part by “the Bronfman sisters,” Stone said, referring to Sara and Clare Bronfman, heiresses to the multimillion-dollar Seagram’s alcohol fortune.
Stone was hardly the only well-connected political player in NXIVM’s orbit. The self-styled “dirty trickster,” who worked as a lobbyist for Donald Trump’s casinos and then on his campaign for president, said he was introduced to NXIVM by former New York State Senator Joe Bruno, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Raniere’s organization also hired Doug Rutnik, father of Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, as a lobbyist in the mid-aughts. When Rutnik wanted to resign, he was sued and then ordered to sign a nondisclosure agreement. (Gillibrand’s office told Newsweek that the senator “had never heard of this group until she read about them in the newspaper.”)Newsweek