The jury only needed four hours Wednesday to come to a verdict on accused “sex slave cult” leader Keith Raniere, the man whose followers called him “Vanguard” and who worked closely with former “Smallville” star Allison Mack to recruit new women to his infamous “self-help” group. The verdict: guilty of all charges.
The swiftly delivered verdict means “Vanguard” is facing a potential sentence of life in prison for a string of serious charges, including “sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion,” “attempting to establish peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, trafficking,” “sexual exploitation of a child,” and “possession of child pornography.”
“There was no shortage whatsoever of lurid testimony over the course of an accused sex cult leader’s trial in the Eastern District of New York, and it didn’t take long for a jury of his peers to reach a verdict,” Law & Crime reported Wednesday. Among the disturbing accusations presented in the trial is that Raniere created a sex slave “pyramid,” keeping women loyal through blackmail and manipulation, and encouraged his followers to abort their children in the interest of his sexual desires. Along with being “lurid,” the hearing was also highly contentious, the outlet reports:
In one instance, Judge Nicholas Garaufis (who apparently has quite a reputation) erupted, yelled “You’re done” multiple times at Raniere’s defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo. It happened while government cooperator, Lauren Salzman, was being cross examined by Agnifilo. This prompted Agnifilo to file a motion for a mistrial. The judge rejected his argument. Salzman, a former NXIVM member, recounted how she and Raniere were taking a nap at a Mexican villa when the feds showed up to arrest him. She said this happened just before a planned group oral sex session was to occur.
Agnifilo’s attempt to defend Raniere by describing his lifestyle as “disgusting” but not illegal ultimately failed to convince the jury, who determined that he was guilty of a lengthy list of shameful crimes.
As The Daily Wire has chronicled, the fall of NXIVM and its leaders, Raniere, Mack and Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, escalated in October 2017 when The New York Times published accounts of some of the group’s former “sex slaves,” who came forward to level disturbing accusations about the cult. In response, Raniere went into hiding, more alarming details coming to light over the following months. Finally, in March 2018, Raniere was arrested in a $10,000-a-week villa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Mack was arrested about three weeks later.
Mack pleaded guilty in early April to various charges, including “receiving ‘labor and services’ from two alleged female slaves she oversaw on Raniere’s behalf,” Law & Crime notes, but neither she nor Bronfman pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges. “I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people … and I was wrong,” Mack told a federal judge in April. “I know I can and will be a better person.”
While the Times helped break open the story, a former spokesman for the group, Frank Parlato, had been working to expose the group for months, publishing an extensive blog, the Frank Report, that revealed details about its practices and leaders and provided testimonials from former members. Parlato was one of the first to out Mack as a “key recruiter” for the group and one of the leaders of the secret “sex slave” group within the cult.
“The actress reportedly helped hand-select the sex slaves for ‘The Vanguard’ and would engage in various brainwashing and blackmailing tactics to ensure the women’s loyalty,” The Daily Wire reported in 2018. “Members of DOS are allegedly branded with the initials of both Raniere and Mack.” The Frank Report has published an image of the brand featuring the initials KR and AM (below).
The York Post has also covered the case closely and provided a summary of the allegations against Mack as outlined in the criminal complaint:
According to that complaint, Mack was Raniere’s direct “slave” and had a sexual relationship with him — but also acted as a “master” to other slaves. She allegedly lured women into the secret society within Nxivm known as “The Vow” by claiming it was a “women’s mentorship group” then cajoling them into providing “collateral” like embarrassing photos and statements, federal prosecutors allege. She ordered the slaves to have sex with Raniere and to pose naked for photos — “including on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas,” the feds charge.