The Vow
Credit: HBO

Keith Raniere, leader of the alleged cult known as Nxivm, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn federal court. The controversial figure, whose criminal exploits are prominently featured in the HBO docuseries The Vow, was convicted in June 2019 of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. A fee of $1.75 million was also imposed by the court.

"The 120-year sentence imposed on Keith Raniere today is a measure of his appalling crimes committed over a decade," acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said in a statement.  "Raniere exploited and abused his victims emotionally, physically, and sexually for his personal gratification. It is my hope that today's sentence brings closure to the victims and their families."

Raniere and his former business partner Nancy Salzman founded Nxivm in 1998 as a multilevel marketing company offering paid personal and professional seminars for members, who were pushed to recruit others to join the pyramid. It attracted everyday folks, as well as many famous and influential followers.

Raniere recruited Smallville actress Allison Mack to join Nxivm with the help of her costar Kristin Kreuk in 2006. Mack would become Raniere's lover and co-conspirator in the secret sisterhood known as DOS or the Vow, a sex cult within Nxivm where women were considered slaves and branded with Raniere and Mack's initials like cattle. The women were forced to submit damaging or compromising stories, photos, and videos of themselves that the cult could use as collateral should they ever want to defect or alert authorities. At least one of Raniere's victims was underage. 

Mack pleaded guilty last year to racketeering charges and is awaiting sentencing. She faces a minimum of 20 years for each of her two charges. Salzman, who was second in command to Raniere, pleaded guilty to racketeering criminal conspiracy and is also awaiting sentencing. 

In an interview with Dateline that aired last week, Raniere apologized for the hurt he caused but maintained his innocence. 

"This is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt," he said. "There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I'm the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined."

Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg has been a vocal opposer of Raniere and Nxivm due to her daughter India's involvement.

"Only a monster would discredit his victims.. remorseful for what? himself? Typical sociopath," the actress wrote via Twitter following Ranier's sentencing. 

Nxivm was largely bankrolled by Seagram's liquor heirs Sara and Clare Bronfman. Clare Bronfman was sentenced to 81 months in prison in September for conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of personal identification information. Sara Bronfman has not been charged with any crimes.

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