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What is the NXIVM sex cult?


NXIVM claimed to be a self-help group but was actually a cult that authorities say engaged in sex trafficking.

Founder Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison, and cult member Allison Mack will be sentenced in July of 2021.

 Keith Raniere

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Keith Raniere

What is ‘sex cult’ NXIVM?

NXIVM claimed to be a self-help group and a multi-level marketing organization.

Within the organization, there was a women’s-only subsect led by Keith Raniere known as “DOS.”

The group’s former publicist Frank Parlato claims that to join, women are brainwashed into handing over blackmail-worthy material such as pornographic pictures or financial information.

Once they became a member – or “slave” – they were allegedly encouraged to recruit new women into their “slave pods” to be on call 24 hours a day to their “master.”

 Former self-help guru Keith Raniere is seen in this courtroom sketch

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Former self-help guru Keith Raniere is seen in this courtroom sketchCredit: Reuters

If they don’t recruit enough “slaves” or respond to their “masters” fast enough, they were beaten with paddles, Parlato claims.

New members were later taken by surprise, told to strip naked, and then forcibly branded, according to Parlato.

They allegedly had to follow strict 500 to 800 calorie a day diets because leader Raniere prefered skinny women and told his followers that fat “interferes” with his energy levels.

The controversial leader is also said to have had a harem of women who willingly slept with him, believing that they will have been “healed” by having sex with him.

 Female slaves were branded with Keith and Allison's initials
Female slaves were branded with Keith and Allison’s initials

Raniere was arrested in Mexico.

In June 2019 he was found guilty of sex trafficking, forced labour conspiracy, racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, possession of child pornography and other crimes.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn took less than five hours to find Raniere guilty on all counts, prompting ex-Nxivm members to burst into applause.

Raniere showed no reaction as he learned the verdict. He would be sentenced to 120 years behind bars.

 Allison Mack

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Allison MackCredit: Splash News

Who is Allison Mack?

Allison Mack is a television actress best known for playing a young Superman’s close friend in Smallville.

She was charged with sex trafficking, after federal prosecutors said she worked as a slave “master” to recruit unsuspecting women to Raniere’s sex cult.

Mack was said to be Raniere’s direct “slave” and had a sexual relationship with him – but also acted as a “master” to other slaves, according to the criminal complaint.

Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering charges on Monday, May 6, 2019 and is waiting for her sentence.

 Leader Raniere is pictured in this courtroom sketch
Leader Raniere is pictured in this courtroom sketchCredit: AP:Associated Press

What does NXIVM mean and how do you pronounce it?

NXIVM is pronounced as “nexium”.

It is not clear what those initials actually mean.

The sex-slave subsect of the group led by Raniere was known as “DOS,” which victims say stands for “dominus obsequious sororium” – Latin for “master over the slave women”.

Are NXIVM recruits branded?

It has been alleged that Raniere subjected his “slave” members to humiliating acts including branding them.

A court heard that Raniere had 20 “sex slaves” that he branded with his initials.

He would allegedly burn his initials into his victims’ flesh, including that of Mack and billionaire heiress Clare Bronfman.

The mark left on the skin shows a symbol made up from the letters K and A, for Keith and Allison.

According to the New York Times exposé, each branding tool 20-30 minutes, and muffled screams and the smell of burning tissues would fill the room for hours.

Smallville actress Alison Mack stars in NXIVM recruitment video


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