UPDATED, 3:01 PM: Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to more than 6 1/2 years in prison and a half-million-dollar fine for her role in the “Nxivm” sex cult case. She had pleaded guilty in April 2019 to charges of conspiracy to conceal and harbor an illegal alien for financial gain and the fraudulent use of identification.
In announcing the sentencing, federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York said Bronfman “used her incredible wealth as a means of intimidation, threat and exacting revenge on individuals who challenged [Nxivm’s] dogmas.” The 81-month sentence exceeds the five years that prosecutors had sought in the case.
She is the half-sister of Edgar Bronfman Jr., who was the head of Canadian beverage giant and Universal Pictures owner Seagram’s when it acquired by Vivendi in 2000 and became CEO of the new Vivendi Universal. He stepped down from the executive job in late-2001 but remained as vice chair of the company’s board. He was named Junior Executive Chairman of the live-streaming service fuboTV this year.
Read more details of the Nxivn case below.
PREVIOUSLY, July 2019: The leader of the “Nxivm” sex cult that included Smallville actress Allison Mack was convicted on all seven counts today in New York and faces possible life in prison. Keith Raniere, founder of the “self help” program and purported pyramid scheme, was found guilty of sex trafficking, racketeering and other felonies in an Eastern District courtroom.
He had pleaded not guilty to all charges, which also included racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking. He will be sentenced September 25.
Prosecutors had alleged that Mack co-created a program called The Source, which recruited actors.
Details from about the case from the Department of Justice are laid out below, but be warned: Some of it is graphic.
As for Mack, she pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy and racketeering charges before the trail began. She was arrested in April 2018 and charged with recruiting women “to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere,” United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in the original indictment. “The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit.”
Here are details of the case from the DOJ:
According to court filings, during the past 20 years, Raniere established a series of purported self-help programs within his umbrella organization “Nxivm” (pronounced NEX-i-um). Nxivm is based in Albany, New York and has operated centers in the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America. Nxivm maintains features of a pyramid scheme, as its courses cost thousands of dollars each and participants (“Nxians”) are encouraged to pay for additional classes and to recruit others to take classes in order to rise within the ranks of Nxivm. A number of Nxians were residents of the Eastern District of New York when they were recruited, and Nxivm has held promotional recruiting events in Brooklyn. Mack is credited in publicly available materials with co-creating a Nxivm program, called The Source, which recruited actors.
As detailed in court filings, in 2015, Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm called “DOS,” an acronym that stands for a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions,” or “The Vow.” DOS operated with levels of women “slaves” headed by “masters.” Slaves were expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owed service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid. Raniere stood alone at the top of the pyramid. Other than Raniere, all members of DOS were women. Mack is one of the women in the first level of the pyramid immediately below Raniere.
Mack and other DOS masters recruited DOS slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses that the Nxivm curriculum taught were common in women. Mack and other DOS masters concealed Raniere’s status at the top of the pyramid from new recruits.
As a pre-condition to joining DOS, women were required to provide “collateral,” which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets. DOS slaves were told that their collateral could be released for any number of reasons, including telling anyone about DOS’s existence or leaving DOS. Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere’s initials. During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and a master would order one slave to film the branding while the others restrained the slave being branded.
According to court filings, Mack directly or implicitly required her slaves, including Jane Does 1 and 2, as identified in the Indictment, to engage in sexual activity with Raniere. In exchange for this, Mack received financial and other benefits from Raniere. Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 believed that if they did not participate in those activities with Raniere, their collateral would be released.