Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman and three others were arrested in Albany on Tuesday for their ties to NXIVM, an alleged sex cult that masquerades as a self-help organization.
The Associated Press reports that all four arrested individuals were charged with racketeering conspiracy. Aside from Bronfman, the three others facing charges include Nancy Salzman, who co-founded NXIVM with Keith Raniere; Lauren Salzman, Nancy’s daughter; and Kathy Russell, NXIVM’s former bookkeeper.
Per the Times Union, the Albany publication to first report the arrests, the charges against the four defendants allege that they recruited and groomed sexual partners for Raniere, and that they used “harassment, coercion and abusive litigation to intimidate and attack perceived enemies and critics of Raniere.”
These arrests come four months after Raniere was arrested in Mexico and charged with sex trafficking, and nearly three months after the arrest of actress Allison Mack, who is facing the same charges. The two have been accused of running the alleged sex cult that subjected “sex slaves” to regular humiliations and cauterized their pelvic flesh with Raniere’s initials — a horrifying branding ritual Mack proudly claimed to have instituted in a rare interview with the New York Times in May. Per the indictment, it was Mack’s primary job to recruit the “sex slaves.”
According to prosecutors, Bronfman has used her wealth to bankroll NXIVM’s activities, though she has previously argued that she has not been complicit in any wrongdoing. Raniere and Mack have also denied all the allegations against them.
All four are making their first court appearances on Tuesday.