Just days after Keith Raniere — the co-founder of the mysterious and controversial self-improvement group, Nxivm — was arrested in Mexico, actress Kristin Kreuk is denying reports that she recruited women as “sex slaves” as a member of the group.
Raniere — known as “Vanguard” to his followers — was arrested this week after a number of sex trafficking and forced labor charges were filed in New York City.
The criminal complaint states that the 57-year-old used his power and influence as the head of Nxivm to “brainwash” women into forced labor and sex and were branded with his initials.
Actress Kristin Kreuk allegedly lured women into the organization, according to a report by the New York Post.
On Thursday, the Smallville alum released a statement to her Twitter account refuting the rumors.
“When I was about 23, I took an Executive Success Programs/NXIVM ‘intensive,’ what I understood to be a self-help/personal growth course that helped me handle my previous shyness, which is why I continued with the program,” Kreuk wrote in the statement. “I left about five years ago and had minimal contact with those who were still involved.”
Kreuk, 35, says reports that she held influence within the organization are not true, and that she had no involvement in a secretive subgroup within Nxivm called “Dominus Obsequious Sororium,” (DOS) in which women were allegedly coerced into serving as sex slaves to their male masters.
“The accusations that I was in the ‘inner circle’ or recruited women as ‘sex slaves’ are blatantly false,” the statement continues. “During my time, I never experienced any illegal or nefarious activity. I am horrified and disgusted by what has come out about DOS.”
The actress went on to thank the former female members of Nxivm — based out of Colonie, New York — who are assisting authorities in their investigation.
“Thank you to all the brave women who have come forward to share their stories and expose DOS; I can’t imagine how difficult this has been for you,” Kreuk wrote. “I am deeply disturbed and embarrassed to have been associated with NXIVM. I hope that the investigation leads to justice for all of those affected.”
Kreuk did not mention former Smallville costar Allison Mack, who was also named in the Post report. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Eastern District declines PEOPLE’s request for comment on any investigation into Mack’s alleged involvement.
For the past two decades, an estimated 16,000 people have paid as much as $5,000 for an executive coaching workshop offered by Nxivm, which promises to take participants on a journey of personal discovery and development, according to previous PEOPLE reports.
The complaint, which was obtained by PEOPLE, outlines how authorities believe the women were forced to turn over “collateral” — identified as potentially-damaging personal information or materials, such as nude photographs, with which they were later blackmailed. It further claims the women were branded with Raniere’s initials, as he “alone forms the top of the pyramid as the highest master.”
Raniere has not pleaded to the charges he faces. Nxivm soon issued a statement in support of Raniere, writing in part: “We are currently working with the authorities to demonstrate his innocence and true character.”
- With Reporting by Chris Harris