The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York announced on Tuesday that the head of NXIVM Keith Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison, effectively a lifetime sentence.
Raniere was accused of grooming female recruits to the group to be sexual partners. In June 2019, he was found guilty on several charges, including racketeering and sex trafficking. Last month heiress Claire Bronfman became the first woman to be charged for her involvement in the group.
She was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for identity theft and immigration fraud. Bronfam, heiress to the Seagram alcohol conglomerate, is believed to have spent over $100 million of her inheritance on the organization, including a private island used by NXIVM’s leaders as a retreat.
NXIVM was made out as a self-help group for wealthy and famous individuals, but according to prosecutors and former members of the group, women who joined were branded with Raniere’s initials and forced to stay silent on the threat compromising material, such as naked photos and sex tapes, being released. Prosecutors have described these actions as extortion.
As The New York Times reports, the ruling came after hours of testimony from victims who described their lingering trauma. One victim identified as Camila said Raniere sexually abused her for 12 years beginning in September 2005 when she was only 15 years old.
India Oxenberg, another one of Raniere’s victims, said he attempted to drive her and her mother apart. She said she was expected to wait for Raniere naked “like a piece of meat” and that she became so thin during her time with him that she stopped getting her period.
Raniere continues to command support from his followers, according to The New York Times, and he has yet to express any regret for his actions. Lawyers representing him wrote in a filing, “He is not sorry for his conduct or his choices.”
Actresses such as Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk and Linda Evans all were reported to have participated in NXIVM classes and events at one point. Mack pleaded guilty last year after admitting to recruiting other women for the group. She has not yet been sentenced.