Papers filed by Mack’s lawyers in Brooklyn federal court on Friday cited a 2009 case in which a couple unsuccessfully sued the Church Of Scientology for forced labor, one of the central accusations against the NXIVM leaders, Deadline reports. In the Scientology case, a judge ruled that threats to release embarrassing or incriminating personal information didn’t amount to the “serious harm” necessary to establish force.
Mack’s lawyers argued the precedent applies to NXIVM, which is accused of threatening to release nude photos and embarrassing confessions if members didn’t comply with Raniere’s requests, including free labor and sexual favors.
“The government argues that Ms. Mack obtained forced labor through ‘threats of serious harm,’ with serious harm being the embarrassment that would result from the exposure of one’s collateral,” lawyers wrote in the court filing. “Courts have found, however, that such an outcome, albeit embarrassing, does not amount to serious harm under the statute.”
Starting with Mack’s involvement, reports of life inside NXIVM gotten more and more bizarre, including a sex-slave pyramid scheme called Dominus Obsequious Sororium (meaning “the master over the slave girl”), branding Raniere’s initials into women’s pubis, billionaire heiress-funded trips to meet the Dalai Lama, brainwashing, a Law & Order: SVU spin-off episode, and now Scientology.
Mack has been released on a $5 million bail while she awaits trial for charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labour conspiracy. She and Raniere face a 15-year minimum mandatory sentence, with the possibility of life in prison.