One of Keith Raniere’s victims slammed sex cult leader NXIVM in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday afternoon, describing how he “hid his abuse behind concepts of worth and nobility.”
“But there is nothing noble about abusing a child,” said Camila, who was only identified in court by her first name, as Raniere looked away.
She is one of at least 15 former members of the NXIVM who are expected to denounce the group’s founder before his conviction for sex trafficking and electronic fraud.
Camila, who is said to have had sex with Raniere for more than 12 years – starting at the age of 15 – spoke for the first time about the abuse she suffered, explaining in court how the 60-year-old l isolated from friends and family for her “sexual gratification”.
She said her decision to speak was her way of “finding her voice” after years of “coming to terms with trauma and abuse.”
Throughout Raniere’s trial, jurors saw sexually explicit messages between the two, including multiple conversations about BDSM. Prosecutors used Camila’s abuse as the basis for Raniere’s child pornography charge.
On Monday, Camila, whose two sisters also had a relationship with Raniere and were forced to have an abortion, said the abuse was more than just sexual, but also emotional, mental and psychological, which led her to s ‘isolate from friends and family to “please”. Raniere.
“He manipulated me for what he wanted,” she says. “I became inaccessible to my parents, my brother, my friends until I no longer had anyone to worry about me. He knew what mattered most to me and what I feared and he used it against me.
“I have scars on my body from him that can never be erased,” Camila added.
Sarah Edmondson, a former NXIVM top recruit who was one of the early whistleblowers against the organization, also addressed the court via video. Speaking directly to Raniere, she criticized the cult leader for being “a liar, a parasite and a con man” who manipulated people in search of personal growth.
“In a program focused on personal growth, you haven’t taken any of it,” she said. The 43-year-old woman, who was part of a secret group forced to bear Raniere’s initials, said she removed the markings with plastic surgery.
The conviction marks the end of a years-long battle between Raniere, known as the “Vanguard,” and dozens of former members who allege that NXIVM was a criminal enterprise in which Raniere had sex with girls. minors, forced the women he had impregnated to abort, and made “slaves” illegally monitor his enemies. Last June, Raniere was convicted of seven offenses – including wire fraud conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy – for manipulating his followers for his own sexual gratification under the guise of the mission of NXIVM.
Hours before the Brooklyn federal court sentencing, more than a dozen Raniere supporters lined up outside the courthouse, including Battlestar Galactica actress Nicki Clyne, arriving with a film crew. (While Clyne was a member of NXIVM, she was not charged with a felony.)
Prosecutors have recommended a life sentence for Raniere, while his defense has requested 15 years behind bars, arguing that while the 60-year-old “continues to assert his complete innocence in the face of these charges,” he believes. that the prosecutors were at fault.
Since its founding in 1998, NXIVM has gathered approximately 17,000 members, running $ 5,000 workshops that promised to equip followers with the skills to promote a path to “greater personal growth.” But prosecutors contend it was nothing more than an illegal pyramid scheme, attracting new recruits who were forced to recruit others. In 2017, the authorities opened an investigation after a New York Times exposed that female members of NXIVM were branded and used as Raniere’s toys.
Less than a year later, Raniere was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, child exploitation, and child pornography.
Raniere was charged along with five other women: co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren, a senior lieutenant; Smallville actress and allegedly second-in-command Allison Mack; Clare Bronfman, heiress to Seagram’s fortune and NXIVM’s biggest donor; and group accountant Kathy Russell. While the five pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, Salzman was the only one to testify against Raniere.
Bronfman was sentenced last month to 81 months in prison for the extreme lengths to which the 41-year-old was sentenced in order to protect the group and its leader.
“I am extremely grateful and privileged that people around the world pray for me because they know of my goodness,” Bronfman said just before his sentencing. “It doesn’t mean that I didn’t make mistakes, that I made mistakes.”
Throughout Raniere’s six-week trial last June, jurors heard grim testimony from several women, some of whom have testified about NXIVM’s alleged women’s empowerment group, DOS. The women allege that it was in fact a master-slave program in which they were forced to have sex with Raniere, blindly obey their “masters” and brand themselves with her initials by of their crotch with a cautery pen – without anesthesia.
Among the written DOS instructions created by Raniere, Lauren Salzman testified, slaves were told “to be a hungry dog for your master.”
But since Raniere’s conviction, the 60-year-old has maintained his innocence and continued to make demands on his followers from prison, prosecutors said in a sentencing memo last month.
Calling for a life sentence, prosecutors revealed in a note to U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis that Raniere still communicates with his remaining supporters by phone and email, suggesting that “ he is unrepentant, no. has no empathy for his victims and would continue to commit crimes if released.
Some of those commands include digging up dirt on Garaufis, asking experts, including Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, to speak on behalf of Raniere, and starting a podcast with a $ 25,000 cash prize that would entice listeners to find “alleged errors in Raniere’s prosecution and trial.”
“Raniere hid his abuse behind the smokescreen of his supposed ‘personal growth’ programs – a farce he continues to this day,” the memo reads, asking the judge to impose a life sentence. . “Since his conviction, Raniere has continued to demonstrate a complete lack of remorse for his crimes.
In a court filing last month, Raniere’s own defense attorneys admitted that the “Vanguard” has no remorse for its actions and will not ask forgiveness from its former members. Instead, the legal team accused Garaufis of corruption and demanded a new trial. Garaufis rejected Raniere’s second offer for a new trial on Friday.
Raniere himself insisted on his innocence in an interview with NBC. In his first interview since his conviction, Raniere claimed that while he was a leader of an organization that primarily jailed women, he was simply the victim of unethical prosecution.
“I’m innocent,” Raniere said in Friday’s prison interview with Dateline NBC, before saying he was “sorry and sorry” for his role on NXIVM. “It’s a horrible tragedy with scores of people injured. There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I’m the devil or not, the legal process needs to be looked at.
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