Keith Raniere, the founder and leader of the cult NXIVM, was sentenced to 120 years in prison by a Brooklyn federal court on October 27.
In June 2019, Raniere was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. He was also fined $1,750,000.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis read the sentence and said in his decision that the crimes Raniere committed were "cruel, perverse, and extremely serious."
NXIVM and DOS
NXIVM was a "self-help" multi-level marketing organization that Raniere and his close circle of co-conspirators used as a front for criminal racketeering and other crimes. In 2015, Ranier also founded and lead DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium), “a secret organization in which women were recruited under the false pretense of joining a women-only mentorship group, later discovering that they had taken ‘vows of obedience’ to women who were ‘slaves’ to Raniere.” Women who wanted to join DOS had to hand over “collateral” first, such as “damaging confessions about themselves and loved ones (truthful or not), rights to financial assets, and sexually explicit photographs and videos—to prevent them from leaving the group or disclosing its existence to others.”
The women of DOS were considered to be Raniere’s “slaves.” They were forced to take nude photographs, engage in sex acts, stick to very low-calorie diets, and do work for Raniere.
15 victim impact statements were given at the trial, including two women who met Raniere as teenagers: “Camila,” who was 15 at the time, and her sister, “Daniela.”
Camila was Raniere’s first sex slave. They met when she was 13 and Raniere was 43. Camila and Daniela were persuaded to leave their home in Mexico and join Nxivm.
Camila recounted how both she and her sister were impregnated by Raniere and then forced to have abortions. Raniere also gave Camila the sexually transmitted disease HPV, was so critical of her weight that she developed an eating disorder, and had her branded with his initials.
Camila’s sister Daniela was pressed into forced labor, and when she refused, she was confined to her room by herself for almost two years, afraid to leave because they threatened to send her back to Mexico without identification documents.
Camila and Daniela left the NXIVM cult in 2017. Before the sentencing, their father sent a letter in which he sided with Raniere, calling him "Honest, Whole, Brilliant Intelligence, always ready to help, Cheerful and In Love with Humanity."
While all of Raniere’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty to at least one charge, Raniere maintains his innocence.
"Despite everything that has happened and despite the countless victims who have given voice to their great pain, Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. Indeed, he maintains his innocence," Judge Garaufis said. "To him, the brave victims who have spoken out about the abuse suffered at his hands — including those who spoke today — are liars."