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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.

Go deeper

R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Singer R. Kelly on Monday was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of violating an anti-sex trafficking law, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Sexual misconduct allegations have surrounded R. Kelly's career, including a child sexual abuse image case in 2008 in which he was acquitted. Multiple other victims have come forward to speak about the abuse in recent years.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

Amazon's small business shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is touting the success of small sellers on its platform through the pandemic — and warning that antitrust legislation could jeopardize that success and blow up its open-marketplace model.

Why it matters: As online shopping became a lifeline for both businesses and consumers during the pandemic, Amazon reaped big benefits, but also saw its regulatory risk grow.