Jul 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere ordered to pay $3.4M to victims

Photo of a person pushing a cart with a black box containing court documents related to Keith Raniere

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Keith Raniere, leader of the cult Nxivm who in 2020 was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking, to pay $3.4 million to 21 victims, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Nxivm marketed itself as a self-help organization and forced women, who were called "slaves," to submit sensitive, personal material including naked photos to ensure their loyalty. Higher-ranking members would use the "collateral" to coerce compliance with orders including participation in sexual acts.

  • Leaders also held women down on tables and forced them to recite the words "Master, please brand me, it would be an honor" as other sect members cauterized Raniere's initials onto their skin.

Details: At a restitution hearing on Tuesday in New York City, Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered Raniere to pay $3.4 million to 21 victims who wanted the brandings removed.

  • Garaufis noted that "[v]irtually all low-ranking members ... were victims of a conspiracy" involving forced labor, per the Times.
  • The largest sum of money was awarded to a woman who was 15 when Raniere began to sexually abuse her, according to the Times.

Worth noting: Allison Mack, a former actress who was one of the lead recruiters for Nxivm, was sentenced to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine last month.

  • Court documents show she assisted prosecutors in the case against Raniere and turned over a recording of the ceremony in which women were branded with his initials.

What to watch: Raniere plans to appeal his conviction, according to a CBS affiliate.

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