Leader of Abusive Sex Cult "NXIVM" Ordered to Pay Victims $3.5 Million

On July 20, the leader of the sex cult NXIVM, Keith Raniere, was ordered by the court to pay for the removal of his initials branded into his female members. The total cost of the restitution is $3.5 million for the 21 victims. The cost includes the surgery for removing the brands, mental health therapies, and unpaid labor rendered by NXIVM's members and employees.

The court has not settled on any method as to how Raniere will pay for the brand removals. He is currently admitted to a prison in Arizona.

On June 30, Allison Mack — a television star known for her role in the Superman-drama series Smallville — was sentenced up to three years. Mack's sentence was focused on her role in the NXIVM sex cult. Mack helped Raniere manipulate helpless women, allowing Raniere to prey on their insecurities, turning them into obedient sex slaves. Mack expressed remorse and guilt during her sentencing in the federal court in Brooklyn, stating that she has "made choices I will forever regret." She also apologized to the cult victims, admitting that she was instrumental in subjecting the victims to the "nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man."

Another one of Raniere's co-conspirators, Lauren Salzman, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in 2019.

In April 2019, Clare Bronfman — heir to the Seagram fortune — was sentenced to more than six years in prison over her role in the cult. In her half-hearted statement, Bronfman apologized to the victims, saying that it was never her intention to cause hurt and that she is "deeply sorry." However, Bronfman added that she would never denounce Raniere because NXIVM had "greatly changed my life for the better." Bronfman is Raniere's primary benefactor, pouring millions of dollars into the sex cult to pay for its vision of building a "better world."

"Vanguard" is the name Raniere insisted his followers refer to him by, especially the female victims he had branded in secret rituals. The NXIVM cult has been operating as a multi-level marketing scheme that offers the "Exclusive Success Program" and self-improvement workshops. The cult was started by Nancy Salzman, whose daughter, Lauren Salzman, was charged for racketeering in 2019. Nancy, along with Keith Raniere, began operating NXIVM in Albany, New York. NXIVM, pronounced "Nex-e-im," was labeled by an HBO Documentary as a vast pseudo-psychology scheme that destroyed lives. 

The victims were considered to be an internal group of members within NXIVM's ranks. Calling themselves "The Vow" or the Latin phrase for "Master of the Obedient Female Companions" represented in the letters D, O, and S. The reports of branding and sexual slavery started in early 2017, with legal cases filed later that year.

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