NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere is jailed for life for forcing women into sexual slavery and branding his victims
NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere was sentenced to life in prison for forcing women into sexual slavery.
Raniere was handed a life sentence in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Tuesday for crimes after insisting he was innocent.
Federal prosecutors wanted Raniere, 60, to remain behind bars for life as punishment for the "immeasurable damages" to victims he exploited as head of NXIVM.
The alleged "cult" was a purported self-help group headquartered near Albany, New York.
His lawyers said Raniere maintained his "complete innocence," in a court filing last month.
His attorneys said they viewed his conviction as the result of a "media campaign involving witnesses who were motivated to testify falsely" at "an unfair trial."
Lawyers for Raniere have asked US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who imposed the sentence, for no more than 15 years in prison.
Raniere was convicted in June 2019 of racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, possession of child pornography and other crimes.
Jurors reportedly heard extensive testimony from former NXIVM members.
Prosecutors said Raniere created a secret sorority within NXIVM called DOS.
This involved female "slaves" turning over nude photos and other compromising materials that could be used for blackmail if they tried to leave.
Raniere was also accused by prosecutors of having a sexual relationship with a girl starting when she was 15, and who later became part of his inner circle of DOS slaves.
Prosecutors said he kept nude photos of the girl, which are the basis of the child pornography charge.
The girl's older sister – who was also deeply involved in NXIVM – testified at length against Raniere during the highly-publicized trial.
Their dad was among more than 50 people who wrote letters to Garaufis, urging leniency for Raniere.
Many claimed their lives had been greatly improved by NXIVM classes, which could cost thousands of dollars.
Raniere’s lawyers insisted that no one in DOS or NXIVM was ever coerced before his sentencing today.
Several other people affiliated with NXIVM have pleaded guilty to criminal charges.
These include Seagram liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, actress Allison Mack, former NXIVM president Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman, who testified as the prosecution’s star witness.
Bronfman, who was accused of helping bankroll NXIVM, was sentenced last month to more than six years in prison.
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