NXIVM mastermind Keith Raniere ordered to pay $3.4 million restitution to victims, including removal of brandings
On top of a 120-year jail sentence, former Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere has been ordered to pay $3.4 million to 21 of his victims — a sum that includes funds allocated to help the women remove Raniere's initials that were burned into their skin.
The mandate was handed down by a Brooklyn Federal Court judge at a restitution hearing on Tuesday, nearly two years after Raniere was convicted in 2019 of crimes including sex trafficking and racketeering during his time leading the organization at the center of HBO's docuseries The Vow. The program's title was inspired by a disturbing act performed by high-ranking members of the group, which involved cauterizing the skin of female members who were held down on a table while they repeated, "Master, please brand me, it would be an honor."
Sarah Edmondson, a Canadian actress who appeared throughout The Vow to discuss her time with Raniere, was awarded payment. According to the New York Times, the largest amount allocated by the court totaled around $507,997, to a young woman Raniere sexually abused when she was only 15.
At the hearing, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis stressed that "virtually all low-ranking members of [Nxivm's secret society] D.O.S. were victims of a conspiracy," as Raniere watched the proceedings via video from Arizona, where he's serving his sentence.
The judge further revealed that about 100 people related to the case submitted requests for restitution, totaling around $33 million, including former cult members and one of the group's business consultants. Garaufis ultimately found that 17 people deserved payment under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (applicable with relation to forced labor, sex trafficking, and servitude), with an additional four requests being granted for funds under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996 for crimes of racketeering, conspiracy, and wire fraud.
Elsewhere in the ongoing Nxivm case, Smallville actress Allison Mack was recently sentenced to three years in prison and fined $20,000 for her role in executing criminal acts as part of Raniere's plot.
"I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Raniere with everything I had," Mack said in a statement to the court. "I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself. I devoted my loyalty, my resources, and, ultimately, my life to him. This was the biggest mistake and regret of my life."
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