Keith Raniere, the leader of the infamous organization known as NXIVM, has been sentenced to 120 years in prison. Today’s sentencing follows his conviction in June 2019 on seven federal felony counts: racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, and two counts of sex trafficking.
“In every aspect of his conduct, Mr. Raniere has acted like the law does not apply to him,” Rolling Stone reports Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis saying before reading the sentence. “Unfortunately for him, it does.”
Fifteen of Rainere’s victims provided impact statements, describing in particular their experiences within the NXIVM sub-group known as DOS, in which participants were subjected to sexual and physical abuse, forced to provide sexually explicit images of themselves as “collateral,” and were branded with Rainere’s initials, burned into their skin.
One of the victims to offer a statement was Sarah Edmonson, a former member of DOS, featured in the recent HBO documentary series about NXIVM, The Vow.
“You are not a leader, a mentor, or a guru,” she stated. “You are a liar, a parasite, and a grifter.”
Another victim described meeting Rainere when she was 13 years old, and him pursuing a sexual relationship with her starting at age 15. She says he proceeded to infect her with a sexually transmitted infection, impregnate her and then force her abort the fetus, and cut her off from contact with her family and loved ones.
“He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me, not just sexually but psychologically,” that victim, identified as “Camila,” said. “He hid his abuse behind ideas and concepts of nobility, but there is nothing noble about abusing a child.”
Rainere also conducted a sexual relationship with her sister, whom he helped travel to the U.S. from Mexico on false documents, and then threatened to have her deported unless she stayed inside of a single room.
The proceedings were conducted without electronic recording or broadcast, as is customary in federal cases. Closed-circuit feeds were set up in six rooms within the courthouse to accommodate the gathering of victims, media, and others who wanted to be present.
Raniere continues to insist that he is innocent of all the charges against him. A court filing from prior to the sentencing states that “he is not sorry for his conduct or his choices.” Prosecutors allege that Raniere has called Judge Garaufis “crazy,” and warned that the judge “needs to know he’s being watched.”
The New York Times reports that he claims to be planning a podcast in which he will present his own version of the case, and intends to operate a contest for his followers, offering a $25,000 cash prize for amateur appeals attorneys who identify any errors or technicalities in his prosecution.
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