Keith Raniere, the founder of an alleged sex-cult that masqueraded as a self-help organization, has been hit with yet another charge, per Reuters: child pornography.
In March 2018, Raniere was arrested and charged with sex trafficking for his involvement in NXIVM, an organization that allegedly brainwashed, manipulated, and blackmailed women into being “sex slaves.” He also, according to new court filings, coerced underage girls into his operation. At a Brooklyn hearing on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said that Raniere had sex with a 15-year-old girl who later became his first “slave,” and that he had a sexual relationship with at least one other child.
In a scathing statement issued Wednesday, Raniere’s attorney Marc Agnifilo condemned the new charges as illegitimate, arguing that if prosecutors had a case, “they would have brought them a year ago.”
“These eleventh-hour charges three weeks before jury selection serve only to taint the jury pool,” Agnifilo said.
In the year since Raniere’s arrest, a growing number of individuals with ties to the operation have been arrested and faced charges. NXIVM’s foundation has also increasingly cracked. In April, Smallville actress Allison Mack, who claims she instituted the ritual of branding sex slaves with Raniere’s initials, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and forced labor; and in July, Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman, former bookkeeper Kathy Russell, and co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter, Lauren Salzman, were charged with racketeering conspiracy for their involvement in a criminal organization. (Since Raniere’s arrest, he’s also been charged with forced labor, wire fraud conspiracy, and human trafficking.)
And, just hours before Raniere was hit with the most recent child pornography charges, Nancy Salzman plead guilty to her racketeering charge, making her the first person from the operation to be convicted. In the courtroom, SFGate reports that she broke down, saying, “It has taken me some time and some soul-searching to come to this place.”