Founder of the ‘self-help’ group NXIVM, which has been unmasked as a bizarre slave-master sex cult, has been hit with a barrage of new charges, which include production of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.
Keith Raniere, leader of NXIVM (pronounced ‘Nexium’), an Albany-based cult that styled itself as a self-improvement group, is facing two more charges in a superseding indictment unsealed by the attorney for New York’s Eastern District on Wednesday
It is now alleged that Raniere, better known as ‘Vanguard’ or ‘Master’ within the secretive group, coerced underage girls to participate in porn photoshoots for more than 10 years. He then kept files with sexually explicit images and stored them on a hard drive.
The memorandum issued by the district attorney’s office stated that other high-ranking members of NXIVM that were put on trial along with Raniere were well aware of their leader’s sexual relationships with minors. One of the underage victims was identified as “a fifteen-year-old girl” who was working for the group’s co-founder, Nancy Salzman.
The same day new charges against Raniere were filed, Salzman pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge. The teen became “Raniere’s first-line slave” in the clandestine sorority group within NXIVM known as DOS, which stands for ‘dominant over submissive’ in Latin.
Another victim was described only as “a child” whose sexual relationship with the ‘guru’ was “known” and “facilitated” by other members.
Raniere was arrested in his luxury hideout in Mexico in March last year and flown to the US, where he, along with other prominent members, including Hollywood actress Allison Mack and liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, were indicted on a number of charges. Apart from the new child porn allegation, Raniere has already been charged with forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit identity theft.
The court papers described DOS as a pyramid structure with Raniere, who was the only man in the sorority, solely at the top. New members, or “slaves,” who were recruited into NXIVM were forced to give collateral to ensure that they would keep mum about the group. The collateral was sexually explicit images or videos, as well as true or untrue allegations made against themselves or their family which were filmed. The “slaves” were blackmailed into providing new collateral, sometimes as often as every month, which saw them signing over their assets or doing things that might kill their careers if made public.
Raniere is accused of subjecting members of DOS to physical and psychological torture such as self-induced sleep-deprivation. Raniere also instructed his female followers to have their genital areas branded with his initials and told them to survive on a 800-calorie diet, all under the guise of women’s empowerment.