Sex cult trial in New York moves to
closing arguments on Monday
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[June 17, 2019]
By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jurors are expected to
hear closing arguments on Monday in the trial of Keith Raniere, the New
York man accused of trapping women in a sex cult and having them branded
with his initials.
Raniere, 58, faces charges including racketeering, sex trafficking and
child pornography. Prosecutors said he used his organization Nxivm,
which billed itself as a self-help group, to hide a secretive sorority
known as DOS in which young women were blackmailed into have sex with
him, follow dangerously restrictive diets and be branded with his
Raniere, who could face life in prison if convicted, has pleaded not
His six-week trial has featured testimony from several women who said
Raniere victimized them, including Lauren Salzman, daughter of Nxivm
co-founder Nancy Salzman and a longtime member of Raniere's inner
Lauren Salzman, who has pleaded guilty to related criminal charges, told
of how she became Raniere's "slave," and recruited other slaves for
DOS slaves were forced to hand over compromising information about
themselves, often including nude photos and embarrassing confessions,
and told that the material would be released if they disobeyed orders or
tried to leave, according to Salzman and other witnesses.
Raniere declined to testify in his own defense and called no witnesses
after the prosecutors rested their case on Friday. His lawyer, Marc
Agnifilo, has said women were never forced to act against their will.
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In their closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors and Raniere's
lawyers will each get the chance to argue their view of the
evidence. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis will then instruct
the jury before they begin deliberating on the verdict.
Other members of Nxivm, which is pronounced "nexium," were charged.
They include Nancy Salzman, actress Allison Mack and Seagram liquor
heiress Claire Bronfman, who bankrolled the group's frequent
lawsuits. All have pleaded guilty to crimes and have not yet been
The group first became known for its "Executive Success Program"
courses, which purported to give students the ability to achieve
their goals in life by overcoming mental blocks. Witnesses in the
trial, however, testified that leaders of the organization
psychologically manipulated and abused its members and demanded
total obedience from them.
Nxivm has suspended classes, according to a statement posted on its
website after Raniere's 2018 arrest in Mexico.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)
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