At this point, nothing should surprise me when it comes to accusations against Smallville actress Allison Mack and Keith Raniere, two prominent members of alleged sex cult NXIVM. Over the past year, disturbing reports of sex slaves, diet control, and human branding have come from former members of the cult, as well as an extensive piece in The Hollywood Reporter.
The piece mostly corroborates earlier reports of Mack's deep involvement in the organization, and allegations that she was instrumental in finding, recruiting, and controlling the women who joined Raniere's inner circle, DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium, or Master Over Slave Women), as sex slaves. It also sheds some disturbing light on what exactly Raniere required of these women and what he believed their purpose was. Now, months after the alleged cult made headlines in 2018, NXIVM is back in the news as those allegedly involved in the twisted saga, like Mack and Raniere, are making their pleas in court.
But to understand what those pleas mean, let's take a look at some of the most disturbing and wild details in the case.
Keith Raniere allegedly believed women were controlled by his sperm.
Specifically, a former member told THR that Raniere believed the women he had sex with were all connected via his sperm, and this was another way of controlling those in his harem.
"If one woman is having an issue, it hurts Keith, and if he's hurting, you're hurting," a former member explained. "So if you do something he doesn't like, you get an army of women, sister wives, coming after you. You get ostracized. No one wants to socialize with you unless you get back in line."
Keith Raniere allegedly promoted incest, pedophelia, and misogyny.
From early on, the organization seemed to prime its members for polygamy, but this turned out to be a springboard for Raniere's more controversial views about gender roles and incest.
"Keith said to me multiple times that it was OK for little girls to pleasure their fathers sexually," another former member confessed. "He thought that was fine."
The NYT also reports that at one NXIVM group called “Society of Protectors,” women were made to wear fake cow udders over their breasts while men insulted them.
Keith Raniere allegedly used members' houses as sex dens.
In the grand jury testimony obtained by the New York Post, former members alleged that Raniere had sex with "sex slaves" in houses belonging to people like co-founder Nancy Salzman and actress Allison Mack.
“The bed was elevated, and a hot tub was underneath the bed,” a former member said of Salzman's library in her Halfmoon, New York home.
Raniere would allegedly punish women who had sex with people who weren't him, at one point keeping a woman prisoner for 18 months in the home of one of his supporters because she pursued a romantic relationship with someone else, according to the New York Times.
Allison Mack brought women into the cult for Keith Raniere to use a sex slaves.
A witness formally identified on court documents as Jane Doe 5 has now been named. Going only by Nicole, she testified Friday at Mr. Raniere’s trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Nicole joined the group in 2016 when Mack offered what she thought was mentorship. She was dissatisfied with the trajectory of her career. After meeting with Mack at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan, Mack promised that joining the group would "fix" how she was feeling.
She now believes it was all a ruse and part of "a plot to get me up here for Keith." To join the group, Nicole said she was asked to provide "collateral" to show that she was committed. This collateral included a solo sex tape and a letter in which she lied about being sexually abused by her father. At one point she was encouraged by Mack to "be a good slave" and do anything Raniere asked.
Nicole recounted an experience she had shortly after joining NXIVM where she was led blindfolded into a house in upstate New York by Raniere and asked to remove her clothes and lie down on a table. Her wrists and ankles were bound. Raniere allegedly circled the table asking her questions about her sexual history while an unidentified third person performed oral sex on her. "I was so confused. It was terrifying," she said on the witness stand.
Keith Raniere allegedly wanted a DOS political candidate.
According to a testimony given by Lauren Salzman, Raniere “envisioned that there would be thousands or millions of people in [DOS], We might be able to have a candidate, a D.O.S. candidate, for political office.”
NXIVM and DOS punishments were allegedly violent.
"The punishments could include being forced to hold painful poses, stand barefoot in the snow, take cold showers and whip each other on the 'bare butt' with the strap, Ms. Salzman said," the New York Times wrote. "She recalled that Mr. Raniere once called during the beatings to tell the women to make sure that they snapped their wrists in a particular way to inflict maximum pain."
Many believe Allison Mack had been brainwashed.
"I don't think she was thinking she was actually trafficking girls," a former roommate told THR. "It doesn't mean she doesn't deserve punishment, but I think she had drunk enough Kool-Aid to really believe that these girls were going to save the world with [Raniere's] super-sperm."
Some former members even suspect she's so devoted to the cause that she'll actually take the fall for the leader, saying he had no-knowledge of the inner-circle where much of the initially reported abuse and branding occurred.
"If Allison testifies that Keith didn't know, that's a crock of shit," Barbara Bouchey, a former girlfriend of Raniere who left NXIVM in 2009, said.
Co-founder Nancy Salzman plead guilty to federal racketeering charges and more.
In March, co-founder Nancy Salzman plead guilty to the federal racketeering charges, as well as “unlawfully surveil[ling]” perceived "enemies" of NXIVM by obtaining user names and passwords of their email addresses, according to the New York Times.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.