The sentencing of Keith Raniere — the co-founder and “Vanguard” of the infamous NXIVM sex cult— to 120 years in prison is a huge win for his countless victims. While much attention has been put on those who were directly at his mercy, one of the main relentless architects of Raniere's takedown, Catherine Oxenberg, shared what she feels this win really means.
As iterated in HBO’s docuseries The Vow and Starz’s four-part documentary series, Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult, Catherine fought to save her daughter India Oxenberg from Raniere's clutches. India joined NXIVM, which was disguised as a self-improvement program, at 19, and would spend the next decade in the cult. She was also part of a secret group of the company called DOS, which was later exposed as being a dangerous sect that used coercion in order to control women, brand them with Raniere's initials and make them his sex slaves. The 59-year-old former Dynasty star spent nearly four years on a mission to save her daughter.
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Catherine called this a "very happy moment," because for so long Raniere was able to to use his privilege and power to "wriggle out of everything." His access to powerful people and money (including NXIVM's main financier, Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman, who was sentenced to 81 months in prison) gave him the power "to silence victims, to intimidate victims, to terrorised, exploit, abuse — sadly, my daughter included."
There was a sense in the case that Raniere had reportedly been “unrepentant” and tried to paint himself as a victim for the last two years that he's been in jail, and Catherine emphasized that his lack of remorse is what makes him the most dangerous. "This man would never stop. I think that much was clear even at his sentencing, where he basically called his victims liars," she said. "He has absolutely no remorse, which I think in essence makes him a sociopath. But it's over for him."
Catherine also said that she felt 120 was a "fair sentence," and when asked if she was worried he'd influence people to do his bidding behind bars much like he did in the outside world, she was skeptical. She feels that most of his power comes from the slow and calculated process of indoctrination specifically fostered through NXIVM. "He's a troll. He's an ugly little dumpling, literally one of the most innocuous people you've ever seen in your life," she said of Raniere without the backing of his company. "He is a nothing."
"He's not going to get to boast about raping 15-year-olds," she continued. "They're going to take him out. I think a prison population is actually going to know how to handle a Keith Raniere. They're not going to buy his sick BS."
She did acknowledge that his process of indoctrination was extremely meticulous and slow, as there is a sense from many people who hear about cults that only "fools" can fall victim. She emphasised that man of his followers were actually highly educated. "You have to understand the power of indoctrination," she said. "Look at a totalitarian regime, look at Nazi Germany: You think, how could these people have fallen for this ideology? It makes no sense, it's inhumane, it's hideous. And yet the structure of indoctrination is very interesting. What I realized through all this is just how fragile and how susceptible to being manipulated the human mind is, and how easy it is to be changed in your thinking without you even knowing."