Nxivm Sex Cult Leader Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison

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Nxivm Sex Cult Leader Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison

Nxivm Sex Cult Leader Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison

Nov 3, 2020

Keith Raniere, founder of the company Nxivm (pronounced nexium), has been sentenced to 120 years in prison following a 2019 conviction on federal charges of racketeering, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, child pornography possession, and human trafficking.

“Keith Raniere will not be able to victimize people anymore after today’s sentence, and we’re very grateful for that,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Seth DuCharme. “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,” he said.

Based in Albany, New York, and created in 1998, the company described itself as an organization “working to build a better world” through a “community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people.”

In actuality, Raniere recruited women as slaves and forced them to have sex with him. As the BBC reported, “Raniere sat at the top and controlled female members through a slave and master system. Some women were branded in their pelvic areas with Raniere’s initials in filmed ceremonies, while members would gather each year to celebrate and pay for his birthday.”

Labeled a “sex cult” in an explosive 2017 New York Times investigative report, Nxivm has been the focus of two recent documentaries on HBO and STARZ. India Oxenberg, daughter of Dynasty actress and royal descendant Catherine Oxenberg, is a Nxivm survivor featured in the documentaries who spent seven years inside the sex cult. Upon learning of Raniere’s sentencing, Oxenberg told Esquire she “felt a sense of peace knowing that he’s not getting out.”

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Fifteen of Raniere’s survivors either spoke or had victim impact statements read at his sentencing in Brooklyn federal court. One survivor, a 15-year-old girl at the time of the abuse, had a redacted copy of her victim impact statement posted to the court record.

“While he hid our sexual relationship from others, he explained it to me by telling me that I was very mature for my age. And I know now that it was false – I was a child,” her statement read. “He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me – not just sexually but also psychologically.”

Prosecutors said Raniere should spend his life behind bars for the “immeasurable damages” he caused to survivors of the cult. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis also fined him $1.75 million.

The New York Times reported that Raniere maintained his innocence while speaking before the court at his sentencing, claiming some of the victims were lying but also acknowledging he was “deeply sorry.”

“Where I am is caused by me,” Raniere said, according to The New York Times. “This is all my doing.”

Nxivm Mass Action Lawsuit

In January, 80 survivors of the Nxivm sex cult filed a mass action lawsuit. The complaint cited allegations of fraud, identity theft, racketeering, forced labor, and sex trafficking.

“The longer someone was immersed in this system, the more likely it became that they would suffer moderate-to-severe psychological and emotional injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder,” the federal complaint states. “Many of the plaintiffs in this action were injured in this way and still struggle with the effects of their time in Nxivm and exposure to defendants’ programs.”

The lawsuit is ongoing, with survivors seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Legal Options for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

In California, a survivor of sexual abuse may pursue a civil lawsuit against a perpetrator to recover financial damages. Under recent legislation known as AB 218, any survivor of childhood sexual abuse has a limited three-year “lookback window” to file a claim, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred.

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