On June 30, actress and former NXIVM recruiter Allison Mack is set to receive a sentence for charges related to sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, and forced labour. But according to prosecutors, who are now arguing for a lighter sentence, Mack played a key role in turning over damning evidence of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s manipulation and abuse.
“Although Mack could have provided even more substantial assistance had she made the decision to cooperate earlier, Mack provided significant, detailed and highly corroborated information which assisted the government in its prosecution,” federal prosecutors wrote in a memo, according to Variety.
The biggest piece of information was a phone recording that proved Raniere ideated NXIVM’s now-infamous branding ceremony. “Do you think the person who’s being branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a sort of, almost like a sacrifice? I don’t know if that, that’s a feeling of submission, you know,” Raniere says in the recording. “And the person should ask to be branded. Should say, please brand me, it would be an honour, or something like that. An honour I want to wear for the rest of my life, I don’t know… And they should probably say that before they’re held down, so it doesn’t seem like they are being coerced.”
Raniere co-founded NXIVM, a so-called self-improvement group, in 1998. The cult had nearly 20,000 members by the time it was exposed as a twisted, dangerous pyramid scheme in a 2017 New York Times article. In 2019, Raniere was found guilty of many charges, including sex trafficking, human trafficking, and racketeering; in 2020, he was sentenced to 120 years in prison. “I do believe I am innocent of the charges,” Raniere said at the time. “It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all.”
Mack has been accused of bringing women into both NXIVM and a smaller sex cult within NXIVM called DOS, in which women were coerced into performing sex acts. At Raniere’s trial, one woman testified that Mack lured her into a “women’s empowerment group” and pushed her to offer “collateral,” including a sexually explicit video and a letter falsely accusing her father of molesting her. Mack later threatened to release the “collateral” when the woman expressed her desire to leave.
Mack was arrested in 2018, and she pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in 2019. “I have come to the conclusion that I must take full responsibility for my conduct and that’s why I am pleading guilty today,” she said in court. “I’m very sorry for who I’ve hurt through my misguided adherence to Keith Raniere’s teachings.”
She currently faces a recommended sentence of 14 to 17 years. Although she did not testify at Raniere’s trial, prosecutors say her sentence should be shortened because of her cooperation with authorities. But former members disagree, and believe Mack should be held responsible for her prominent role in NXIVM's abuse, manipulation, and trafficking.
“I tend to believe any woman, be it from NXIVM or not, would feel too light a sentence for Allison might somehow normalise or condone women abusing other women,” former NXIVM member Ivy Nevares told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.
Another woman, who remained anonymous, echoed Nevares’ sentiment. “Indirectly and directly, [Mack] made scores of women suffer,” the former member told The Daily Beast. “It would be really sad to see her get away with it because she saved her own skin.”