NXIVM founder Keith Raniere sentenced to prison for the rest of his life

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Keith Raniere, NXIVM founder and cult leader, and several of his followers have been in court since 2019. Last month Clare Bronfman, heir to the Seagram liquor empire and financial backer of NXIVM and supporter of Raniere, was sentenced to seven years in prison. She is appealing her sentence. We are currently awaiting sentencing for Smallville actress Alison Mack.

This week, Keith was finally sentenced on many counts. He just received a 120 year sentence. At 60, Raniere will never see the light of day. One of his victims, Sarah Edmondson, said that she was relieved and surely India Oxenberg, who said ahead of the sentencing that Keith was incapable of rehabilitation and should get life behind bars, feels similarly. Sarah’s mother, Catherine Oxenberg, has said as much. Below are a few excerpts from the sentencing via CNN:

“Despite everything that has happened and despite the countless victims who have given voice to their great pain, Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. Indeed, he maintains his innocence,” Garaufis said. “To him, the brave victims who have spoken out about the abuse suffered at his hands — including those who spoke today — are liars.”

“Keith Raniere will not be able to victimize people anymore after today’s sentence and we’re very grateful for that,” said Acting US Attorney for Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme. “It struck me in listening to the victims that Raniere really twisted people’s trust and their need to find some meaning and hope in their lives in just the most insidious and devious ways.”

Fifteen of Raniere’s victims either spoke or had statements read at his sentencing in Brooklyn federal court, John Marzulli, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office of Eastern New York, said.

One of those victims was the 15-year-old girl at the center of the sexual exploitation of a child charge that Raniere was convicted of. A redacted copy of her victim impact statement was posted to the court record, in which she said she was 15 and he was 45 when they began to have sex, and that he took nude photos of her.

“While he hid our sexual relationship from others, he explained it to me by telling me that I was very mature for my age. And I know now that it was false — I was a child,” her victim impact statement read. “He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me — not just sexually but also psychologically.”

Prosecutors described Raniere as the leader of a criminal enterprise who recruited people at Nxivm to exploit them “for power, for profit, or for sex.”

Prosecutors argued at his trial that Raniere “maintained control over his followers and his criminal organization … by ensuring that no one questioned him.” “No one could challenge his authority,” Assistant US Attorney Tanja Hajjar said. “The defendant used shame and humiliation as ways to break people down.”

[From CNN]

I didn’t post a lot of the transcript from the fifteen year old because that sh*t is triggering. I knew what he did to unsuspecting grown women but I didn’t know a child was involved in the situation. She said he started grooming her at 13. Her father was one of the people who wrote a letter defending Keith to the judge. That to me is despicable.

The fact that Keith isn’t repentant says a lot about how narcissistic he is. His non-apology to the victims was even more infuriating. The fact that people say they don’t feel sorry for his followers or victims because they were rich makes me shake my head. All victims no matter who they are or where they come from deserve our empathy. People like Raniere are masterminds. They have somehow figured out how to manipulate the most intelligent people.

I know his life sentence won’t heal the wounds and trauma that he and some of his ardent followers have inflicted but I do hope that his victims are able to breathe and rest easier. I am happy to see all of these predators, like Raniere, R. Kelly, Cosby, Weinstein and Epstein to name a few, finally losing it all and paying for their crimes. We need more of this lawful retribution over the next few years.

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photos of Keith Reniere are screenshots from the creepy YouTube channel Keith Raniere Conversations. Other photo credit: Getty

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54 Responses to “NXIVM founder Keith Raniere sentenced to prison for the rest of his life”

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  1. Cassandra says:

    I hope he lives a long life…..in prison.

    I’m on the fence about Alison Mack. She absolutely helped organize and do horrendous things, but at the same time she’s very much a victim of Raniere. So a moderate prison sentence and a lot of therapy? I don’t know.

    • Renee says:

      Here’s my issue with Alison Mack…I agree she is a victim too. HOWEVER, she recruited other women for him. She enabled other women to become his victims. While I agree she needs lots of therapy and should identify as a victim, there would have been less victims if not for her fervent recruitment. She needs to pay for that.

    • ennie says:

      Abuse victims that become abusers have responsibility, I don’t think they can growth moderate if the hurt caused is as bad.
      The woman who helped kidnap Jaycee Duggar, or Susan Smith. No, they were victims maybe, but victimizers as well.
      Depending on how involved, I would go for a long sentence.
      Abuse victims

    • lisa says:

      Cassandra, you may not know the extent of everything Alison did, of her own choice. She is human garbage. And it ticks me off that the judge, instead of throwing Alison in the slammer to wait for trial where she belongs, “released her to her parents” as if she was a teenage shoplifter. If she was a male, she would be in jail right now.

  2. Chris says:

    Good. I’m glad there’s some justice found in 2020.

  3. Sofia says:

    Good.

  4. Anna says:

    Hope he will die screaming…

  5. Esmom says:

    I finally read a bit more in depth about this cult and holy hell. If there’s anything this era of Trump has taught me is that there are far, far more evil people among us than I ever imagined. I hope his victims can find some measure of peace.

    • Doodle says:

      The hbo doc only scratched the surface. It bugs me when people I know watch it and do t have sympathy for the victims because DOS was only part of what was going on. I’ve been following the news on this cult since the news first broke in 2015 and it’s crazy.

      I’m also torn on Alison Mack. She was so deep in and did so much harm, but wouldn’t have done it without Raniere… folie a deux for sure. I’m with the other poster I think – prison and lots of therapy.

    • buenavissta says:

      There’s also a great CBC podcast about it and yeah, it’s chilling stuff. I was elated when I heard his sentence.

      • Scotchy says:

        There is also a brand new docu-series that is by India Oxenberg on Starz and I highly highly recommend it. It is a far more accurate account of what that cult was. The Vow was extremely biased and soft on those complicit. This documentary series has blown my mind so far. It is far far darker than I knew.

      • lucy2 says:

        I listened to that podcast too, but haven’t watched any of the other stuff about it. I didn’t realize there was a child involved either, and the whole thing is so disgusting. I’m really glad he got sentenced. I hope his many victims feel a little peace today.

    • Jules says:

      Cults have been around much longer than that, going back to ancient history, originating in divinity worship and ritual. And mind control was studied by the CIA in the 50s and 60s. It is horrific but nothing new. It is good that people are seeing things as they are, we can’t hide from the truth anymore.

  6. jbyrdku says:

    I’m currently watching both documentaries, and how people didn’t immediately get up and storm off the second that guy started spouting rhetoric about how ‘child abuse isn’t really abuse’ is simply beyond me.

    • Jules says:

      I agree. As a culture we have become so desensitized to violence and the over-sexualization of women, so the line gets blurred. You can see it in the media- children are sexualized in ad campaigns, the show Cuties, LOL dolls. And then we have the fake-woke saying it’s all about being woke. So you have to look at who benefits from this, and why.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        It’s sad that we live in a world where any situation involving predatory, violent behavior becomes something for desperate misogynists to exploit. That will always be more comfortable to them than acknowledging the ways they help desensitize people to violence on a regular basis.

    • SKF says:

      I struggle with that too. I suppose the answer is, that by the time he said those kinds of things, the people he was saying them too were already completely brainwashed. They were sleep deprived, incapable of making independent decisions or thinking critically and rationally. Their minds had been broken and rebuilt the way he wanted them.

      I do find that there are several reaction shots in Seduced, when he’s saying appalling things, and in them, Alison Mack is always smiling blissfully and nodding with full agreement; but Bonnie seems to look blank, and her eyelashes compulsively flutter shortly after the horrible thing is said. It shows to me that she wasn’t as brainwashed as Allison and was on the process of breaking his mind control over her.

  7. Zaftig_and_Kitty says:

    I wonder if Kristen Kreuk is ever going to e charged. Apparently she enlisted Mack and played a massive role in enlisting young, naive girls to the cult.

    • Ariel says:

      I’m curious what spooked Kristin to get out when she did.
      We know those evil born to Seagrams wealth sisters bankrolled tons of punitive litigation against his defectors, ex lovers, people who spoke out- which effectively kept people quiet.
      But I would love to hear from her about how much she knew of the criminality, manipulation, con man, and sex slave stuff.

    • Amelie says:

      I read Kristin left in 2012 which was a few years before DOS became a thing I think. She was the one to introduce Allison to NXIVM but she isn’t responsible for what Allison did in DOS. I do wonder what caused Kristin to leave the cult and if she ever was questioned by any authorities. But it doesn’t seem like she had any involvement in DOS.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        an awful lot of the acting community in Vancouver was recruited; some folks moved on before things got super dodgy (or they weren’t brought into more questionable stuff) like Grace Park but her Battlestar Galactica castmate, Nikki Clyne, is still involved and defended Raniere

        Is any action being taken against the father of the girl who was trafficked & molested at 15? His defense of Raniere, knowing what was done to his daughter & ow young she was when it started, sounds like he may have been complicit in it

      • SKF says:

        That’s what KK claims; but there are photos of her at an exclusive NXIVM retreat on Branson’s island in 2014. I suspect she just wants to stay clear of the whole thing. She joined because her boyfriend was in it, perhaps when they broke up, she left? Or maybe Raniere hit on her and creeped her out and she left? Who knows, she clearly doesn’t want to talk about it though.

        As for that father, he actually has two daughters. Both were raped (not having “sex” thank you CNN) from when they were underaged teens by Raniere. Then the older one kissed one boy (she previously thought she was asexual because giving Raniere blowjobs on demand made her feel nothing but hollow) and liked him, and she told Raniere.

        He freaked out and punished her by having her kept locked in a room for 2 years. Lauren Salzman was the one who enforced it and the parents were fully aware.

        Then Raniere had the girl’s father drive her down to the Mexico / US border (she had been brought to the country illegally by her parents) and dumped her with $75 USD worth of pesos. She managed to somehow make her way somewhere in Mexico but was traumatised, abused, brainwashed and had no education, money or support.

        Her parents still support Raniere and her father wrote that letter in support of him. Horrific.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        holy shit, both of the parents were aware of what was being done to their underage daughters and they literally drove their daughters across state lines and borders and handed them off to Raniere – they need to be tried for trafficking themselves

      • ennie says:

        I understand that they are in Guadalajara, where the Mexican chapter lives on, along with members still faithful in Monterrey, the biggest two cities besides the Capital.
        I learned a bit here and there of how this worked, including a lady who got sent by her boss to the first level course and showed the “contract” they had to sign, She could not show her face for fear of lawsuits because she had signed some papers. .
        They worked in a pyramidal scheme of “courses”, getting company owners, who would get in paying high fees,ony to recruit and give a “scholarship” to their better paid employees who could pay, under the guise of improvement, job training, sort of, so the employees felt obligated. The courses were something like 60,000 pesos, and they had to pay half. WOW, 30,000 is a lot for many people, for higher level employees is still a significant chunk out of salary. They targeted people who eventually could pay for the next courses.
        The first was just the introduction and hook, very “professional and human development courses-like.
        There are quite a few Mexicans inside the higher levels. there are some affluent members, modern women, architects, people in those industries. There are rumors that they keep on with the scheme, and the school (where the sisters of the abused girl worked), with a different head, and maybe without the DOS slave circle, I bet they still worship that dunghead.

  8. Darla says:

    He actually looks like the cult leader from 90210 that Kelly Taylor fell prey too. Very creepy!

  9. fluffy says:

    Oh the irony of his situation. A sexual predator being confined, for the rest of his life, to a place populated by criminals many of whom are also sexual predators.

  10. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Good! Now do Scientology.

  11. Sinéad says:

    I’ve been following this case for a while and I thought on The Vow Mark V let’s himself off the hook a lot especially in comparison to how he’s portrayed in Seduced. I think he saw the writing on the wall and got out to get ahead of the story. I really disliked him in it and didn’t for a second think he’s as blameless as he would like us to believe. I know he owns the footage used in The Vow though so that’s probably the deal he made with the producers / directors.

    Also, in the Undercover podcast Sarah lets herself off the hook as well saying she’s suffered enough?!? Like she gets to decide when she’s been punished enough, not her thousands of victims some of whom were left destitute? And in episode 7 of the podcast the interviewer asks her if people got into debt paying for courses she encouraged them to take and she replied “yes”. So he followed up by asking her if she deserved to keep all the money she made from all those people and I swear it was an age before she answered. But when she finally did answer she said that she’s paid enough by going public (her reputation) so she should get to keep the money!!!!! This is bs to me, you can cry and repeat how sorry you are and beg the public to believe you but if you then say ‘no I should keep the money I earned because I worked hard for 12 years for NXIVM‘ sorry but it’s bullsh1t. This is after she CONFORMED that she knew people were getting into debt and she still encouraged / manipulated them to pay for courses so she could collect the commission. I’m raging about how many of them are getting away Scott free here

    • cassandra says:

      100% agree with you on Mark and looking forward to watching Seduced.

    • Amelie says:

      I don’t quite see it that way (re: Mark). I finished the documentary last night and while I find Mark creepy looking in general (I dunno he’s super tall and the gray hair makes him look like a New Age guru which I distrust on principle and I guess he can’t really change that about himself), in the last few episodes he has moments where he really loses it. There is one scene where the ex-NXIVM members are joking about something kind of morbid (I forget the context of what they were talking about) and he gets really upset because for him it’s too real to joke about.

      I think the moment he realizes just how huge of a role he played in NXIVM was when he was going through his storage container and found some parable story Keith had written. It was a whole “fake” story about a corporation with an evil CEO who tricked the person he was mentoring to be the unwitting tool to do his bidding and spread his evilness (or something like that). And Mark realized he had been that tool, that Keith had probably written the story relishing the whole time it was about using Mark in a way he didn’t realize he was being used. And he really lost it. I’m not saying he’s perfect because it took Mark an absurdly long time to wake up, even after his own WIFE walked away first. And I can’t get over my general creepiness of him but I think he was trying to separate himself in the beginning from what he helped Keith achieve. As the documentary went on, I could tell how it became more real and how much destruction he unwittingly caused. He knows he is not blameless. He said it several times. I don’t know if I necessarily feel sorry for him, but he was one of the witnesses who testified at Keith’s trial. He really considered this guy his best friend and to be so blind to what was going on… that is going to mess with his head for years.

      • Ashley says:

        Absolutely agree, Amelie. I think Keith got the sentence he deserved. Mark, however, knows what happened to him, where he was responsible for others, and, worst of all, knows how much of his life he wasted. It’s a tragedy of Keith’s doing.

      • SKF says:

        Watch Seduced. 2 episodes in, you will see how culpable and despicable Mark is/was. Well, you’ll see it in one but the second will confirm it even more. He did truly terrible things for Raniere. Yes he was brainwashed; but why should he be excused just because he woke up a bit earlier than Mack? He engaged in incredibly abusive behaviour and was a manipulator and a bully. He laughed at Raniere’s sick (not at all veiled) jokes about women. He is complicit. The Vow uses his footage and was made by friends of his, it goes incredibly soft on him. India, for one, clearly hasn’t forgiven him.

  12. Marigold says:

    I’m watching the the HBO series and it is just horrifying. Like someone posted above, in the era of Trump, I serious am doubting inherent goodness in the world. People can fall for and justify anything.

  13. Sinéad says:

    DELETE PLEASE DOUBLE POST
    I’ve been following this case for a while and I thought on The Vow Mark V let’s himself off the hook a lot especially in comparison to how he’s portrayed in Seduced. I think he saw the writing on the wall and got out to get ahead of the story. I really disliked him in it and didn’t for a second think he’s as blameless as he would like us to believe. I know he owns the footage used in The Vow though so that’s probably the deal he made with the producers / directors.

    Also, in the Undercover podcast Sarah lets herself off the hook as well saying she’s suffered enough?!? Like she gets to decide when she’s been punished enough, not her thousands of victims some of whom were left destitute? And in episode 7 of the podcast the interviewer asks her if people got into debt paying for courses she encouraged them to take and she replied “yes”. So he followed up by asking her if she deserved to keep all the money she made from all those people and I swear it was an age before she answered. But when she finally did answer she said that she’s paid enough by going public (her reputation) so she should get to keep the money!!!!! This is bs to me, you can cry and repeat how sorry you are and beg the public to believe you but if you then say ‘no I should keep the money I earned because I worked hard for 12 years for NXIVM‘ sorry but it’s bullsh1t. This is after she CONFORMED that she knew people were getting into debt and she still encouraged / manipulated them to pay for courses so she could collect the commission. I’m raging about how many of them are getting away Scott free here

    • Scotchy says:

      I do wonder if Sarah would feel the same way now. I mean the podcast and this docuseries were filmed in 2018. So much more has come to light. Sarah seems naive with ptsd and an inability to process all the guilt that she clearly has even if she won’t truly admit it. I think her husband is the only one out of the vow crew that really stepped up and owned his part and is trying to make amends. It is interesting that India still talks to Sarah and Nippy while she has nothing to do with Mark Vicente. They all should have been forced to pay back the money they made but man oh man this cult was brutal. Crazy thing is people are still a part of it!!

  14. TitusPullo says:

    He is a cult leader who preyed on vulnerable people and I hope he is absolutely miserable for the rest of his wretched life.

    I was very interested to see the FBI/judge write-ups that mentioned “mind control” and I hope it makes it easier to prosecute these people in the future. With the proliferation of Accelerationists and the increasingly violent cult of Q, we are going to need all the help we can get to punish, treat, and prevent cults across the board- not just the rape cults. Scientology, I hope you’re next!

  15. Golly Gee says:

    For the rest of his life, and his next life too! Judge Garaufis, who oversaw the trial and sentenced him, was amazing. He was compassionate, careful ( so there wouldn’t be grounds for an appeal ), and didn’t take any crap.
    I have been following this for the last 4-5 years and Raniere is completely scary. His drug of choice was power and control, and his goal was to get control of an actual country. One of his financiers, Sarah Bronfman, is married to a Libyan man, and Raniere actually tried to plot a revolution there shortly before an election using Sarah’s husband. It failed. He also tried to make inroads in the Mexican government, using at least two of his Mexican disciples – one, the son of a former president still wields a lot of power. Finally, he was hoping he could use DOS to ensnare and then blackmail women in high-level American politics, in order to gain political power in the U.S.

  16. Amaria says:

    I need to see “Seduced” to have a full-formed opinion, but the way I see it right now Mack deserves as much prison and mandatory therapy as law allows. It’s one thing to get “brainwashed”, but at some point any person who grew up with relatively normal morality around has to notice that what they’re doing is inexcusable abuse. She seems very narcissistic and as much as she was Raniere’s victim in the beginning, she became his willing partner later. Her initials were being burned into people’s skin, FFS. I’d hate the NXIVM top tier to be let off the hook – it’s like with Nazi gov’t in Germany in 1940s – it wasn’t just Hitler.

    • lisa says:

      100%! It sucks that people give Alison Mack a partial pass because she’s a woman. If she was a man who did all that recruiting and trafficking, would ppl be sympathetic? Of course not. She doesn’t need therapy, she needs her butt kicked.

      • SKF says:

        It’s an interesting one. What she did was vile and abusive. She helped him plan out all aspects of DOS. She was also starved, sleep-deprived and her mind had been broken and rebuilt by Raniere and Salzman. Raniere had her on a diet of 500 calories a day and she was wasting away. He told Vicente he wanted to break her. She was intensely sleep deprived and had undertaken courses like the SOP Complete which completely broke her down. She had been significantly abused and brainwashed herself and was still being abused and brainwashed. How responsible is someone in a state like that? It’s a conundrum!

        She, Lauren Salzman, Clare Bronfman and others need to be punished for sure; but I hope they get a lot of deprogramming and therapy as well. It’s also tricky in that Mack has been charged but Nicki Clyne hasn’t – when she seems to have been equally complicit in the planning and running of DOS and is still running DOS today. Mark and Nippy did terrible, shockingly abusive things to people and made lots of money off them and have not been charged. Nancy Salzman is one of the two key architects of the whole lot, has profited enormously and abused thousands, and yet got off with the lightest charges. Where does the line of complicity finish?

  17. Mtec says:

    I’m glad to hear he’ll never be a free man again, but unfortunately nowadays for men like him, he could still very much run a cult or at least still have control over followers from prison. Or he could have new “fans” writing him while in there and he could still do a lot of damage to people. I don’t think his power ends just cause he’s behind bars unfortunately.

  18. Amelie says:

    I finished The Vow last night and omg so many feelings I can’t even begin to get into otherwise I’d write a book. I see so many similarities between Keith Raniere and Ma Anand Sheela (and I guess any head of a cult but that’s the last cult documentary I watched), the Rajneesh spokesperson in Wild, Wild Country. As sleazy as he is, Keith has this weird charisma thing and he dominates any conversation he has with his faux-deep comments and rhetorical questions. I could totally see how so many people/women would fall for his BS, even I was scared by how compelling he came across and I was just watching him on a TV screen. So glad he will rot forever in jail.

    Same with Sheela. I have watched her give talks post-Wild Wild Country on Youtube and the audience LOVES her. This is a woman who served time for attempted murder! Even her interviewers sit there rapt listening to her. It’s amazing how much of a pull these kinds of people can exert to basically get otherwise normal, smart people to do the most ridiculous things. She could easily start a new cult if she wanted to, just because she has so many fans from watching her in Wild, Wild Country. It makes me glad that I am very suspicious of any kind of self-help stuff.

    I thought The Vow was definitely compelling, but very slow in the first few episodes and a bit all over the place. I think what surprised me most was how much stuff Mark (?) recorded and got on tape, footage with Keith and other members and recordings of conversations on the phone. Why was he recording phone conversations with his own wife that way after she left? Was that something Keith asked him to do or that he started to do for his own self-preservation? I was so surprised Bonnie decided to stay with him. I think my favorite was definitely Catherine Oxenberg though. She really went above and beyond to get her daughter out of that cult. I know the Starz documentary goes more into that but I don’t have subscription to Starz so I haven’t been able to watch it.

    • Golly Gee says:

      Keith had a huge ego and thought what he said was hugely important, so he made sure everything was recorded. This of course led to his downfall. LOL
      As for why Mark was recording conversations with his wife after she left him, that would have been at the direction of Keith as well. He was paranoid and suspicious of anyone who left and went to great lengths to spy on people in case they were working against him. Anyone who spoke up was sued into the ground, thanks to Bronfman money. Even when there was no case, which was usually the case, they would continue to hammer their victims with frivolous suits just to bankrupt them.

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Once I started the HBO piece I couldn’t stop. I understand the many sides to this, EXCEPT, the female members staying true and dancing outside his prison. He’s a psychopath and will never truly understand what he’s done because he’s God. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone rivaling his love of hearing himself speak. One hundred and twenty years makes me smile. Allison deserves time and anyone who fought back once the abuse surfaced. This took a long time. The con was birthed and fed and tended to every second of every day for decades. It makes me physically ill.

  20. Jules says:

    Bye bye. Next up, Maxwell.

  21. olliesmom says:

    I can’t get over how much he looks like actor Gary Cole.

  22. Mee says:

    It’s one thing to go to a self help seminar, or group but all these cults are the same. 1 weird little white man claims to know all, and soon after he gets to sleep with all the women in the group. Oh by the way, a clear pyramid scheme is a foot, bring in 1 friend who brings in 3….. I mean Christ none of these men or women thought….wait this sounds familiar. Even the girl from the HBO show Sarah? Said people would ask her “hey how’s your cult going? “. The people on the outside knew. She was just busy getting money. That ‘heal the world’ bullshit is straight from Scientology playbook. Yes happy he’s in jail. But sheesh people are gullible

  23. ennie says:

    Cringe dance for Raniere’s Birthday, green are the highers up, quite a few brainwashed women and Mexicans (run to hide):
    https://youtu.be/mFmoaSvOP1c