After a six week trial, NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, 58, was found guilty by a jury of all 11 charges, including sex trafficking, possession of child pornography, and forced labour, reports The New York Times. The jury, consisting of eight men and four women, took only four hours to reach their verdict.
Raniere's NXIVM, which is centred in upstate New York, purported to be a self-help group that initially taught individuals how to reach their potential via the "Executive Success Program." ESP was founded in 1998 by Raniere and Nancy Salzman. However, women later alleged that an all-woman sub organization within NXIVM, known as D.O.S. or "Dominus Obsequious Sororium" (which translates to Master Over Slave Women), had more nefarious intentions.
Women within D.O.S. claimed that they were divided into "slaves" and "masters," and that Raniere was the head of the division. They were allegedly forced to give the organization "collateral," such as compromising photos or videos, in order to pledge their allegiance to the group. They alleged this material was then used as blackmail. They also stated that during their time in the organization, they were branded with Raniere and his alleged second in command actress Allison Mack's initials. Some alleged that they were pressured into having sex with Raniere as part of participation.
Lauren Salzman, whose mother founded ESP with Raniere, told the court that Raniere would "punish" women in D.O.S. physically who failed standards. These punishments included being forced to take cold showers, being whipped with a strap, and holding painful positions. For her leadership role in D.O.S., Salzman pled guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.
Mack, the one-time star of TV series Smallville, pled guilty to the charges against her in April of 2019. A video of Mack praising JNESS, a different women's organization within NXIVM, resurfaced on YouTube shortly after her and Raniere's arrest. Mack's charges included sex trafficking, identity fraud, and money laundering. She could spend up to 40 years in prison.
Raniere currently faces life in prison for his crimes as he awaits his sentencing on November 25.