Depraved sex cult leader Keith Raniere is found guilty on all counts: Jury takes just four HOURS to convict Nxivm founder after six weeks of testimony from the victims he terrorized and grossly abused
The 58-year-old is the leader of the secretive New York-based group called NXIVM where designated some of his female followers ‘slaves he starved, branded, blackmailed and forced into orgies’
The group has been described by former members as a ‘sex cult’ that brands and brainwashes women
Keith Raniere was been found guilty on all seven counts, including racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy and sex trafficking
He is now facing life in prison after a jury arrived at a unanimous verdict after a few hours of deliberation on Wednesday
The jury heard six weeks of testimony with multiple women who were lured into the sex slave group, DOS, recounting their experiences
Raniere had issued an order for these women to be branded with his initials in a painful process that he described in one recording as a sacrificial whatever’
Long term fugitive Raniere was extradited to Texas from Mexico last year and charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy
His sentencing has been scheduled for September 25
‘Keith maintains his innocence, he does plan on appealing,’ Raniere’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo said after the verdict reporters outside court
Raniere had issued an order for some of female followers designated ‘Slaves’ to be branded [photo] in a painful process that he described in one recording as a ‘sacrificial whatever’. The DOS brand foisted on ‘Slaves’ includes the initials of Keith Raniere and Allison Mack.
The trial lasted for six weeks, during which time multiple women were called to the stand to describe how they served as ‘sex slaves’ to Raniere and were forced to have his initials branded on their bodies.
These women testified about how they were forced to turn over collateral in the form of damning and often false statements about themselves, while also providing graphic nude photos of themselves, including images of their genitalia.
That was not all either, with Raniere also making demands that the woman stay thin and not trim their pubic hair.
Those two edicts were carried out by the female masters who were each assigned to a group of slaves, and involved most of the women being restricted to just 500 calories per day.
One witness described how Raniere imprisoned her in a room for two years, while an FBI agent showed jurors the graphic nude photos of a 15-year-old Nxivm member that he discovered on cult leader’s hard drive. The teen allegedly had been ‘gifted’ to the pedophile by her mother.
It was also revealed during the trial that Raniere had raped that girl, who is the younger sister of the woman imprisoned by the cult leader.
Both of those women were forced to have abortions at one point as well after becoming pregnant.
The women have a third sister who was also involved in the group. She has a child with Raniere.
‘Over the last seven weeks, 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 involving sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion compelled abortions, branding, degradation and humiliation,’ US Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement shortly after the verdict was read on Wednesday.
‘The evidence proved that Raniere was truly a modern-day Svengali.’
Fugitive NXIVM ‘sex cult’ leader, Keith Raniere is placed in custody March 2018, after a high speed chase by authorities in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Raniere’s top lieutenants, including former TV actress Allison Mack [left] and Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman [right], will be sentenced later this year following their plea deals
Allison Mack [photo left], in Mexico at the scene of Keith Raniere’s arrest in 2018. Mack along with other female lieutenants created a diversion as Raniere attempted to flee security police. The defense tried to pin the blame on her
Agnifilo tried to discredit the weeks of testimony in his closing argument on Tuesday after calling no witnesses, including Raniere who refused to take the stand in his own defense.
In his remarks, Agnifilo pinned the blame on Allison Mack and others, portraying his client as an enigmatic and alluring man who did not need to force women into sex.
‘Disgusting lifestyles aren’t criminal,’ he told the jury at one point.
‘He’s not mighty. He’s not great. He’s not godlike. He’s none of those things. He sits there and creates curriculum.’
Agnifilo also filed a motion asking the court to declare a mistrial in the case.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ultimately ruled against that motion following a brief hearing on Wednesday morning.
Agnifilo had objected to the fact that Judge Garaufis dismissed Lauren Salzman during cross-examination when she began hysterically crying on the stand, and never asked her to return to court for questioning.
Salzman, who was one of the five women initially charged alongside Raniere, was the only cooperating witness who was called to the stand during the trial.
She will be sentenced in the coming months as well, along with her mother Nancy, billionaire heiress Clare Bronfman, Smallville actress Allison Mack, and the group’s bookkeeper Kathy Russell.
Those five women initially tried to fight the charges filed against them in the Eastern District of New York, but after months of hearings and court appearances all eventually agreed to change their pleas in exchange for a deal with prosecutors.