Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault and violence and may be distressing to some readers.
Founded by Keith Raniere, NXIVM—under the guise of being an ‘organisation’— allegedly brainwashed and blackmailed women into becoming ‘sex slaves’.
By March 2018, Raniere was arrested and charged with sex trafficking for his role in the group, and the organisation has crumbled. However, since then, federal prosecutors have also charged several other people for their involvement, one being Smallville actress Allison Mack.
Come June 30, 2021, Mack will receive her sentence for her role as a NXIVM recruiter, which involved charges of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, and forced labour.
However, prosecutors are fighting for Mack to receive a lighter sentence due to her role in providing damning evidence for Raniere’s manipulation and abuse.
“Although Mack could have provided even more substantial assistance had she made the decision to cooperate earlier,” federal prosecutors wrote, according to Variety. “Mack provided significant, detailed and highly corroborated information which assisted the government in its prosecution,”
While the public will never completely know whether Mack is being truthful, she did reveal the phone call where Raniere came up with the groups’ ‘branding ceremony’.
“Do you think the person who’s being branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a sort of, almost like a sacrifice? I don’t know if that, that’s a feeling of submission, you know,” says Raniere in the recording. “And the person should ask to be branded. Should say, please brand me, it would be an honour, or something like that. An honour I want to wear for the rest of my life, I don’t know… And they should probably say that before they’re held down, so it doesn’t seem like they are being coerced.”
The ‘self-improvement’ group was co-founded by Raniere in 1998 and garnered nearly 20,000 members by the time that a 2017 New York Times article, exposed the group for its pyramid scheme wrongdoings.
By 2019, Raniere was found guilty of human trafficking, sex trafficking, and racketeering, and in 2020, he was sentenced to 120 years behind bars.
“I do believe I am innocent of the charges,” Raniere said, as per NBC News. “It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all.”
As for Mack’s crimes, she has been accused for being Raniere’s right hand woman, bringing other women into the larger group, NXIVM, and into a smaller sex cult called DOS, where women were coerced into performing sexual acts.
By the time of Raniere’s trial, one victim testified against Mack, admitting that she had lured her into a “women’s empowerment group” and forced her to produce what she called “collateral,” which essentially meant a sexually explicit video and a letter falsely accusing her father of molesting her. Once completed, Mack threatened to release the video and letter when the woman confided in her about wanting to leave the group.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must take full responsibility for my conduct and that’s why I am pleading guilty today,” Mack said in court after her arrest. “I’m very sorry for who I’ve hurt through my misguided adherence to Keith Raniere’s teachings.”
Currently, she faces a potential jail sentence of 14 to 17 years, however, her prosecutors have claimed that those numbers may reduce due to her cooperation with the police. As for NVIXM’s victims, the group’s former members disagree, admitting that Mack’s potentially full sentence should as punishment for her prominent role in the abuse and manipulation of other women.
“I tend to believe any woman, be it from NXIVM or not, would feel too light a sentence for Allison might somehow normalise or condone women abusing other women,” former member Ivy Nevares told The Daily Beast.
Another former member—who chose to remain anonymous—added to Nevares’ statement, admitting that: “Indirectly and directly, [Mack] made scores of women suffer… It would be really sad to see her get away with it because she saved her own skin.”
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