Keith Raniere, 58, the head of a self-improvement group that attracted heiresses and Hollywood actresses, was convicted on Wednesday after he was charged with several counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex.
Raniere was the leader of a self-help group called NXIVM that has also been described as an underground sex-cult. In the past, this group has commandeered heiresses and Hollywood starlets as a part of the pyramid-like system that has been accused of including sex-trafficking.
On Wednesday, a jury took less than five hours to convict Raniere in federal court in Brooklyn and find him “guilty on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex,” according to the Associated Press.
Ranier’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, stated that Raniere plans to appeal the conviction.
“It’s a very sad day for him,” Agnifilo said.
“I think he’s not surprised, but he maintains that he didn’t mean to do anything wrong.”
However, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue describes Raniere as a man who “ruined marriages, careers, fortunes, and lives.”
Catherine Oxenberg, who starred in the original TV series of Dynasty, described NXIVM as a “very frightening group.” Oxenberg had previously fought hard to get her daughter, India, to leave the group.
“I had to save a child who was caught in the grips of this cult, so I wasn’t going to stop until I succeeded,” Oxenberg said after the verdict.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Seagram liquor heiress and former equestrian, Clare Bronfman, as well as Smallville actress, Allison Mack, have also been mixed up in Raniere’s cult that describes new members as slaves until they recruited others. There has also been the suggestion that members became sex slaves and had to have sex with Raniere as part of the initiation.
During the court case, the prosecution revealed that Raniere also insisted his “slaves” be branded with his initials and made them give up damning photos of themselves to him in order to act as “collateral” against them talking out against NXIVM.
Ranier’s defense “argued that Raniere was a genuine believer in unconventional means for self-improvement and that all his sexual encounters with female followers were consensual.”
Today’s conviction came about after Ranier’s arrest in Mexico in 2018. At the time, an investigation was being made into his group and this resulted not only in his arrest but the indictment of Mack and Bronfman. Mack admitted to helping Raniere “assemble his harem and collect collateral.” Bronfman also “confessed to committing financial crimes for him.”
Mack and Bronfman didn’t end up testifying. However, a member of his inner circle and three victims were used as key witnesses.
Sentencing will occur on September 25 and Raniere could face up to 15 years in jail.