Byline by- Vinayak Heliwal
A US Self-Styled Guru Keith Raniere, the founder of the cult-like group NXIVM where women were kept on starvation diets, branded with his initials, and ordered to have sex with him, was convicted and will now face possible life in prison up to 120 years. Raniere was also fined 1.75 million, the maximum penalty allowed by the law.
The effective life sentence for Keith Raniere,60, comes after he was found guilty of coercing women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of NXIVM, a life coaching group that attracted a coterie of rich and famous devotees.
The sentence was imposed by US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, after a hearing where 15 former NXIVM Members spoke out against Raniere. Garaufis said ‘no words can adequately express the lasting pain ‘ Raniere caused his victims.
Raniere established a faction within the group called DOS, a pyramid structure in which women were ‘slaves’ and ‘ Grand Master’ Raniere sat at the top.
The ‘slaves ‘ were made to have sex with Raniere, hand over personal information, and compromising photos, and sometimes we’re branded like cattle as other members held them down.
Followers signed up for 5,000, five-day self-help courses, but some were then financially and sexually exploited and forced to follow a restrictive diet as Raniere known as “Vanguard” exerted control, his six-week trial heard.
Raniere was convicted in June 2019 of racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, possession of child pornography, extortion, criminal conspiracy, and the sexual exploitation of a 15 – year old girl after extensive testimony from former NXIVM Members. Former NXIVM Members said that Raniere used her nude photos of the girls and blackmail them if they tried to leave.
NXIVM probably is known as Nexium proved a huge draw with the promise of providing self-improvement courses when Raniere founded the organization in New York state in 1998.