United States sex cult leader faces life in prison after guilty verdict

Clay Curtis
June 20, 2019

Keith Raniere, 58, coerced a string of women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of a life-coaching group he founded in NY state.

The trial lasted almost six weeks, and included testimony from several of the women involved.

Raniere, 58, faces up to life in prison.

Nxivm founder Keith Raniere is seen in a courtroom sketch.

"This trial has revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a master manipulator, a con-man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization", Richard Donoghue, a federal prosecutor in NY, said after the verdict.

But Raniere swapped the personal development training courses for sex sessions as the head of a group of up to 20 women - the youngest of whom was just 15.

The guru of a cult-like self-improvement group that attracted heiresses and Hollywood actresses was convicted Wednesday of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves through such means as shame, punishment and nude blackmail photos. Raniere will be sentenced September 25. The women Raniere recruited for his "inner circle" saw him as their master, and they eventually came to view themselves as "masters" as they recruited more women to be their "slaves", a criminal complaint said.

"The defendant tapped into a never-ending flow of women and money", prosecutor Moira Penza told jurors in closing arguments on Monday.

Unlike Raniere, the actress chose to avoid trial, and pled guilty back in April in her own case regarding the sex cult. Her daughter India left NXIVM after her mother became an outspoken critic of the group.

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During the trial, the court heard how female recruits in the group were branded with his initials and coerced into having sex with Raniere.

According to reporters on scene, it took jurors only four hours of deliberation to reach a verdict.

"This was a very frightening group", Oxenberg said after the verdict. "We don't convict people in this country for being repulsive or offensive", Agnifilo said.

"I had to save a child who was caught in the grips of this cult, so I wasn't going to stop until I succeeded", Oxenberg said.

"I was a little surprised with the fact that it was every count", he said.

Raniere's attorney, Marc Agnifilo, argued throughout the trial that his client had committed no crimes.

Raniere once had an worldwide following with a foothold in Hollywood with his self-help group, called NXIVM, that was deemed a cult by critics.

This case has been shocking and unsettling for a long time now as it has moved its way through the legal system - and now, well, it looks as though justice will be served in several different ways by the time Raniere, Mack, and the others are finally sentenced and sent off to serve their time.

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