Keith Raniere, the co-founder of the NXIVM corporation, a secretive Colonie-based organization that an expert has called an "extreme cult," was arrested in Mexico this week by the FBI based on a federal criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York.There are sure to be more news items to come such as the following, reported by Chris Spargo and Emily Crane in the London Daily Mail, March 29, 2018 (link in original):
The complaint, filed recently in connection with an ongoing federal grand jury investigation being headed by the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, charges Raniere with multiple counts of sex trafficking and forced labor.
The federal complaint alleges that Raniere, known as "The Vanguard," took part in forming a secretive group within NXIVM in which women said they were coerced into joining a slave-master club and later branded with a design that included the initials of Raniere and Allison Mack, an actress and NXIVM associate who is identified in the complaint as an unnamed co-conspirator.
A warrant for Raniere's arrest was issued more than a month ago. Raniere was taken into custody this week after Mexican immigration officials helped U.S. authorities track him to a luxury, $10,000-a-week villa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he was staying with several women, federal officials said.
Raniere flew to Mexico last November after U.S. authorities began interviewing "witnesses and victims" associated with NXIVM and the secret club, authorities said.
But finding Raniere had been difficult, they said, because he "began using end-to-end encrypted email and stopped using his phone."
"The defendant was uncooperative when immigration authorities arrived and after he was taken into custody, the women chased the car in which the defendant was being transported in their own car at high speed," prosecutors said in court papers.
Raniere, who co-founded NXIVM more than two decades ago, is being held in federal custody in Texas and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth on Tuesday afternoon. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have asked a magistrate judge not to set bond and to order Raniere be returned to the Eastern District of New York.
The federal court filings cast Raniere as a manipulative figure who overstated his intelligence and systematically exploited women, including creating a secret slave-master sex club within NXIVM. An affidavit filed by an FBI agent said their investigation found that NXIVM has similarities to a pyramid scheme.
Federal prosecutors, in pressing their case to have Raniere held without bond, said he "has spent his life profiting from his pyramid schemes and has otherwise received financial backing from independently wealthy women."
A person briefed on the case said the federal complaint does not include all of the charges that are being examined by the U.S. attorney's office as part of its ongoing investigation. Raniere faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted on the sex trafficking charges, according to federal prosecutors.
In a letter to a U.S. magistrate judge on Monday, federal prosecutors said that Raniere "has access to vast resources, (and) poses a significant risk of flight. In addition, his long-standing history of systematically exploiting women through coercive practices for his own financial and sexual benefit demonstrates that, if released, he would pose a danger to the community."
Warning: The document below contains graphic depictions of alleged sexual activity.
Raniere, in statements previously posted on NXIVM's website, had characterized the slave-master group as a consenting, private "sorority" and he said that he and the corporation had no role in it.
But the federal complaint said that emails seized from Raniere's private messaging accounts "support the conclusion that Raniere created" the club, which was known as "Dominus Obsequious Sororium," which means "Master Over the Slave Women."
The women in the group, according to the federal complaint, were lured into the club by other female NXIVM members and required to provide "collateral" in order to join.
"Collateral consisted of material or information that the prospective slave would not want revealed because it would be ruinous to the prospective slave herself and/or someone close to her," states an FBI agent's affidavit filed as part of the complaint. "Collateral provided by prospective slaves included sexually explicit photographs; videos made to look candid in which the prospective slaves told damning stories ( true or untrue) about themselves, close friends and/or family members; and letters making damaging accusations (true or untrue) against friends and family members."
The participants were told the secret club was a "women-only" organization and some were not initially informed that Raniere was the highest member of the organization, the complaint states.
Sarah Edmonson of Vancouver is one of at least 20 women associated with NXIVM who were lured into the club and required them to consent to being branded in their pubic area.
Edmondson said she was never told that the unusual-looking brand was a design that included the initials of Raniere, NXIVM's co-founder, and Mack, a NXIVM associate. In a complaint filed with the New York state Health Department last year, Edmonson identified Mack as having "started" the secret women's group with Raniere.
Edmondson had been associated with NXIVM for 12 years and left the organization in June after she learned the brand that she received contained the initials of Mack and Raniere.
The federal criminal complaint filed against Raniere said the slaves understood that if they left the club, publicly spoke about it, or failed in their obligations, their collateral could be released.
"Some of the masters gave their slaves assignments that either directly or implicitly required them to have sex with Raniere, which they then did," the complaint states. "Other assignments appeared designed to groom slaves sexually for Raniere."
Federal authorities said Raniere does not hold bank accounts in his name, has no driver's license, and for more than a year has used a credit card account associated with a "dead lover" to make purchases.
"In the past year and a half, the defendant and the mother of his child have accessed hundreds of thousands of dollars from a bank account in the same dead lover's name, which contains over $8 million," prosecutors wrote.
Copies of some of the American Express credit card statements associated with that account, which belonged to Pamela Anne Cafritz, who died in November 2016, indicate there were numerous purchases made with that card after her death. The statements, shared with the Times Union last year, indicate the account was used to make purchases from iTunes and Amazon, as well as to make payments to a Saratoga Springs chiropractor.
In their filing that warns a federal magistrate about Raniere's risk of flight, prosecutors noted that Clare W. Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram Co. business empire who has described herself as the operations director of NXIVM, financially backs Raniere and has paid for private jets — costing up to $65,000 per flight — that have transported him around the world.
"Bronfman also owns a private island in Fiji, which the defendant (Raniere) has visited, and both Bronfman and the defendant have contacts all around the world," prosecutors wrote.
Multiple people who have defected from NXIVM or publicly criticized Raniere have received letters purported to be from Mexican law enforcement officials warning them to "cease and desist" making statements about the organization. Federal prosecutors said that Raniere was behind those letters.
The complaint noted that Raniere was also known to prefer women who are exceptionally thin, and that a number of slaves were "required to adhere to extremely low-calorie diets and to document every food they ate."
The first public disclosures about the branding and the secret club within NXIVM were reported last June by FrankReport.com, an online blog operated by Frank Parlato, who was formerly a publicist for NXIVM. The New York Times later published a story about the secret NXIVM club in October.
But reports about NXIVM's troubling practices are not new. In 2012, the Times Union published an award-winning series — Secrets of NXIVM — that raised questions about NXIVM's inner-workings and also Raniere's questionable dealings with women.
The Times Union reported in December that the Justice Department's ongoing investigation is also examining NXIVM's business dealings, including its practice of recruiting members from abroad. A federal grand jury empaneled in Brooklyn has been reviewing evidence in the case, according to people who testified before the panel.
Among those who provided testimony are women who claimed they were lured into the secret club that required them to consent to being branded.
NXIVM's supporters have insisted it is a self-help group focused on business improvement. NXIVM officials and associates have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and dispute any allegation that it is a cult. Recent efforts to reach NXIVM officials for comment have not been successful.
Dating back years, people with connections to NXIVM have filed complaints with various law enforcement agencies, including the New York state Attorney General, the U.S. attorney's office in Albany, the New York State Police, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.
But law enforcement sources said the federal probe in Brooklyn was the first significant investigation involving either the organization or its leader, Raniere.
The federal court records unsealed Monday also disclose information about Raniere that raise questions about some of his assertions through the years, including boasting that he has one of the highest IQs in the world.
"Nxivm students are also taught that the defendant is the smartest and most ethical man in the world," federal prosecutors wrote in their letter seeking detention for Raniere. "He frequently cited having earned three degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but a review of his transcript shows that he graduated with a 2.26 GPA, having failed or barely passed many of the upper-level math and science classes he bragged about taking."
On Sunday, the Times Union reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office is investigating a nonprofit foundation associated with NXIVM that allegedly sponsored brain-activity and other human behavioral studies without any apparent oversight, according to court records.
The nonprofit Ethical Science Foundation was formed in 2007 by Bronfman, who owns a horse farm in Delanson and is listed in public records as the trustee and donor of the foundation.
A state Supreme Court justice recently signed an order directing Bronfman and Dr. Brandon B. Porter, who is involved with NXIVM and conducted the human studies, to turn over all documentation associated with the research, including any written communications, videos, conclusions, consent forms and the names and addresses of "individuals associated with Ethical Science Foundation who participated in any manner with the studies."
A former television star was among those who chased down officers after they took away cult leader Keith Raniere in the Mexican resort village of Puerto Vallarta over the weekend.
Video that was first obtained by Art Voice shows Smallville actress Allison Mack in a state of disbelief as officials arrest Raniere, four months after he crossed the border following the launch of a federal probe.The perceptive reader will notice that the Dalai Lama, alleged to be a spiritual giant, accepted money from this cult.
The women can then be heard saying that they are going to get into a car and follow the officers.
A local authority tells DailyMail.com that the women then engaged in a high-speed car chase with police.
The 57-year-old leader of the secretive New York-based group called NXIVM was taken into custody by Mexican authorities after he was found surrounded by a group of women at a $10,000-a-week luxury villa on Sunday.
Raniere was extradited to Fort Worth, Texas on Monday and charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy.
An individual with former ties to NXIVM tells DailyMail.com that Mack was joined in the video by a group of women including actress Nicki Clyne and high-profile members Lauren Salzman and Loreta Garza.
The same source described Mack as Raniere's right-hand woman at NXIVM.
The actress only recently traveled down to Mexico however, with her social media showing her in the area for just the past month.
The group, which has been described by former members as a 'sex cult', claims to be a self-help organization that operates centers in US, Mexico, Canada and South America.
It emerged last year that the Dalai Lama was paid $1 million to speak to 3,000 NXIVM followers and place a khata - a traditional ceremonial Tibetan scarf - around Raniere's neck.
Raniere left the US last year after the New York Times reported that some women who joined a group in his organization had been branded with a symbol that included his initials.
The women told investigators they were subjected to 'master-slave' conditions that involved physical punishments for disobeying orders.
'As alleged in the complaint, Keith Raniere created a secret society of women whom he had sex with and branded with his initials, coercing them with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets,' US attorney Richard P. Donoghue said.
The complaint says Raniere founded NXIVM about 20 years ago and held a series of purported self-help workshops.
Since NXIVM's creation, Raniere has maintained poly-amorous relationships with its members, according to the complaint.
Courses associated with the group costs thousands of dollars each and participants are encouraged to pay for additional classes and to recruit others in order to rise within the ranks of NXIVM.
According to the complaint, Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm called DOS in 2015, which loosely translated to 'Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions', or 'The Vow'.
DOS operated with levels of women slaves headed by masters and most were recruited from within NXIVM's ranks.
When new DOS slaves were recruited, they were required to provide collateral, which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit's assets.
The complaint says DOS slaves feared that their collateral could be released by the group if they left.
Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere's initials, according to the court documents.
During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked and a master would order one slave to film the branding while the others restrained the slave being branded.
Smallville actress Allison Mack was considering a high-ranking member of the cult and was believed to have been second in charge to Raniere.
Former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg had previously met with prosecutors in New York to detail her daughter's experience in the group.
Oxenberg, through her lawyers at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss, said she hoped Raniere's arrest would go as far as reuniting her with her daughter.
'I want to help all the young women affected by this cult. They are the victims of human trafficking, which is slavery,' she said.
'For months, I have worked to expose Keith Raniere and Nxivm and today's arrest vindicates my efforts.
'I want my daughter to know I love her and that I want her back in my life.'
If convicted, Raniere could be sentenced to life in prison.
'As alleged, Keith Raniere displayed a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves,' FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said.
'He allegedly participated in horrifying acts of branding and burning them, with the cooperation of other women operating within this unorthodox pyramid scheme.
'These serious crimes against humanity are not only shocking, but disconcerting to say the least, and we are putting an end to this torture today.'
Click on the links to see the articles:
Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded by Barry Meier, The New York Times, October 17, 2017
Attorney general probes nonprofit associated with NXIVM by Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Times-Union, March 25, 2018
FBI raids NXIVM president's house as Raniere appears in federal court by Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Times-Union, March 27, 2018
Special Report: NXIVM, a compendium of articles in the Albany Times-Union
NXIVM: What We Know About Alleged Sex Trafficking, Forced Labor by Laura Barcella in Rolling Stone, March 29, 2018
May 21, 2018 update: As reported by Bowen Xiao of The Epoch Times, May 9, 2018 (links in original):
NEW YORK—Dozens of children fell ill from a mysterious disease at a retreat hosted in New York by the notorious NXIVM cult, according to a report by the New York State Department of Health.
The 16-page report centers on Brandon Porter, NXIVM’s doctor, and accuses him of failing to report the outbreak of the disease. The document also accuses Porter of conducting a barrage of shocking human experiments, such as showing scenes of gruesome murder and decapitation to test subjects without their consent.
About “50 to 60 children” were present at the event attended by nearly 400 people—including Porter himself—at the Silver Bay YMCA recruitment office in New York, back in August 2016. During the conference, “many of the attendees and most of the children became ill with an undetermined infectious disease.” Attendees allegedly suffered from “flu-like symptoms, vomiting, and diarrhea.”
Porter, 44, had full knowledge that the illness at the conference was a communicable disease, but he failed to report the incident, the New York state Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) alleges in the document. Porter is also accused of failing to isolate individuals with the disease to an appropriate environment...
...Former spokesperson for NXIVM Frank Parlato, writing about the New York retreat on his blog, The Frank Report, said that none of the “higher-ups” of the society, including Raniere, got sick at the event—only the “students” did.
Parlato, who has been publishing information on the society’s inner workings since 2008 and who has been credited with assisting in Raniere’s arrest, wrote in the August 2017 post that when the students left the event, the leaders told them not to tell anyone what had happened there and, if asked, to say their symptoms were from the flu and not “food poisoning.”
He suggests that Raniere may have experimented with the food served at the event, using the students as test subjects “to learn some important lesson about human reaction.”
“It might have been a drug experimentation on Keith’s part,” Parlato wrote.
“Dr. Brandon Porter was there. Maybe somebody should ask him.”
Porter was charged for conducting illegal and highly perverse experiments for a “fright study” on human subjects. The OPMC accused Porter of showing subjects “an actual video of the horrific and brutal murders and dismemberment of four women by machetes.”
Between 2012 and 2017, the doctor also allegedly showed subjects other violent clips without their consent, including “a male African-American being viciously stomped by a Nazi; a conscious male being forced to eat a portion of his own brain matter; and a graphic gang rape.”
Porter is charged with moral unfitness, gross negligence, and gross incompetence. The OMPC has set a June 27 hearing for Porter to determine whether his medical license should be revoked. If those charges are proven, he could be facing criminal charges by the New York State Attorney General.
The Epoch Times reached out to the New York State Health Department for confirmation of the allegations, but a spokesperson said they were “prohibited” from “commenting on prior or pending Office of Professional Medical Conduct investigations beyond what is publicly available...”