Keith Raniere, the leader of the cult-like group NXIVM, has been sentenced to 120 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis revealed the sentence in Brooklyn federal court recently. The sentence comes more than a year after Raniere was convicted of federal sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography. Raniere will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Fifteen of the victims who were impacted by Keith Raniere's crimes either spoke or had statements read in court. The evidence presented against Raniere was damning as jurors only deliberated for a few hours last year before convicting him. The sentencing comes two years after Raniere was first taken into custody. Acting US Attorney for Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme had this to say about Raniere's sentencing.
"Keith Raniere will not be able to victimize people anymore after today's sentence and we're very grateful for that. It struck me in listening to the victims that Raniere really twisted people's trust and their need to find some meaning and hope in their lives in just the most insidious and devious ways."
NXIVM gained a great deal of notoriety several years back when former Smallville actress Allison Mack was revealed to be a top recruiter for the group, which has been accused of being a sex cult. India Oxenberg, daughter of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, also helped bring attention to the group after getting caught up in it herself. Oxenberg has previously said that it was difficult to leave once inside.
Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and racketeering charges and is awaiting sentencing. NXIVM's president Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman, Kathy Russell and Claire Bronfman have all pleaded guilty to various charges as well in connection to the group. Bronfman was sentenced to more than six years in prison for providing financial support to the group.
NXIVM has been described as a "sexual pyramid scheme involving sex slaves" and Raniere was at the very top of the organization, which positioned itself as a self-help group. But those who testified and have come forward have painted a dark picture of the group, which was seemingly built on a culture of coercion and manipulation. The slaves, per investigators, could ascend the ranks to become masters to other slaves. Raniere, despite the conviction, has maintained that he is innocent. Raniere, during a recent interview with NBC News, said the following.
"I apologize for my participation in all of this, this pain and suffering. I've clearly participated. I've been the leader of the community. And it has come to this. Even if it is by oppression, I am absolutely sorry and pained. This is a horrible situation."
HBO recently pulled back the curtain on the group with its docuseries The Vow. The show was recently renewed for a second season by the cable network. Starz also has a series that chronicles the group titled Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. This news was previously reported by CNN.