A New York self-help organization is in the hot seat this week fighting the initial disturbing claims that followers of the group were forced to become sex slaves while heavier accusations surfaced early Wednesday. One key defendant pleads guilty while another is being charged with child pornography.
The former leader of the group NXIVM, Nancy Salzman explained to the judge in a Brooklyn courtroom, that she teamed up with the self-styled spiritual leader Keith Raniere because she aimed to change people’s lives.
However, she admitted that she lost her path and joined efforts to spy on perceived enemies seeking to expose the Albany-based group that was being described as a pyramid scheme mixed with a cult.
“It has taken some time and soul searching to come to this place,” said Salzman, while holding tears back. “I accept that some of what I did was not just wrong, but criminal. … If I could go back and do it all over again, I would. However, I cannot.”
Just two hours after the guilty plea, an unsealed indictment was presented by the prosecutors against Raniere accusing him of inducing a minor more than one time to “engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce one or more visual depictions of such conduct” in 2005.
Marc Agnifilo said in a statement on Wednesday that he is denying any new allegations and challenged the timing with his client nearing the end of his trial with other charges.
His statement added, the new accusations, “serve only to taint the jury pool, if the charges were legitimate, they would have brought them a year ago.”
A registered nurse who carried the nickname “perfect” within NXIVM, was involved in stealing many identities of the group’s critics and hacking into emails from 2003-2008. The prosecutors also added that she conspired to doctor videotapes showing her teaching NXIVM’s lessons before the tapes were turned over to the plaintiffs in a New Jersey lawsuit against the organization.
This shocking new plea comes into play just a month and a half before Raniere’s trial, which is said to detail every accusation that the master-slave society within NXIVM brainwashed women into having unwanted sex with him while sealing the deal by branding them with his initials to initiate them into the group.
Others being charged include Salzman’s daughter as well as Seagram liquor fortune heiress Clare Bronfman and actress Allison Mack, the star from “Smallville” the TV series. All have denied any involvement.
According to the court records, Salzman will not testify for the government, because there was no agreement to participate as part of the guilty plea to a conspiracy charge that carries an estimated maximum term of 41 months in jail under sentencing guidelines.
Court documents show that Raniere, 58, was arrested in Mexico in 2018 and is being held without bail in Brooklyn on sex-trafficking charges. During his capture, Mack was discovered living with him at a luckary villa in Puerto Vallarta.
According to a biography section regarding NXIVM described Salzman as a former consultant to New York state and significant corporations “until she met Keith Raniere and discovered an approach to personal growth that yielded powerful and permanent results.”
The organization’s website homepage reads, “It is with deep sadness that we inform you we are suspending all NXIVM/ESP enrollment, curriculum and events until further notice.
We will be in touch with more information for anyone currently enrolled in upcoming events/programs.
While we are disappointed by the interruption of our operations, we believe it is warranted by the extraordinary circumstances facing the company at this time. We continue to believe in the value and importance of our work and look forward to resuming our efforts when these allegations are resolved.”
The sentencing for Salzman was supposed to be July 10.
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