A Brooklyn courtroom has heard opening statements on the intercourse trafficking and conspiracy trial of Keith Raniere, the chief of a suspected intercourse cult.
Talking in court docket on Tuesday, Assistant US Lawyer Tanya Hajjar known as Mr Raniere a “predator” who exploited girls, together with a 15-year-old lady.
Prosecutors have alleged that Mr Raniere oversaw a “slave and grasp” system in his group, known as Nxivm.
Mr Raniere, 58, has pleaded not responsible to all costs.
If convicted, he may face life in jail.
“The defendant took benefit of them emotionally and sexually,” Ms Hajjar mentioned, based on native media. “He bought himself as the neatest, most moral particular person on the planet.”
Ms Hajjar mentioned on Tuesday that Raniere’s victims included three Mexican sisters – one in all whom was solely 15 – and saved one other confined in a room for 2 years.
Marc Agnifilo, one in all Mr Raniere’s legal professionals mentioned his consumer’s sexual encounters with girls have been consensual and he denied little one pornography and sexual exploitation costs.
Keith Raniere Conversations/ Youtube
Talking in court docket on Tuesday, Mr Agniflo informed jurors that ladies joined the group voluntarily, describing Mr Raniere as a strict taskmaster, not a prison.
“That is one thing these individuals signed up for,” Mr Agnifilo mentioned, based on US media. “Management may be very unhealthy. Management may make Marines. Management could make gold medal winners.”
5 girls, together with US actress Allison Mack, have already pleaded responsible to their involvement with Nxivm.
The USA legal professional’s workplace opened an investigation into the group following an investigation by the New York Occasions.
Investigators declare that ladies have been recruited as “slaves” and have been allegedly anticipated to carry out menial chores for “masters” and have intercourse with Mr Raniere, who was often called “The Vanguard.”
Members of the group have been allegedly branded with Mr Raniere’s initials utilizing a cauterising pen, typically on their pelvic areas, in ceremonies that have been filmed by members.
Court docket paperwork say investigators have discovered digital communication that advised Mr Raniere was behind the sorority “slave” inside group, one thing he has denied.
Mack, recognized for the US tv collection Smallville, pleaded responsible to her involvement within the group final month, admitting she recruited girls to Nxivm by telling them they have been becoming a member of a feminine mentorship group.
Showing in a Brooklyn federal court docket in April, Mack mentioned she was instructed by Mr Raniere to gather compromising supplies and pictures of two girls throughout the group, threatening to make the photographs public in the event that they revealed details about the key society.
“I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions have been to assist individuals”, Mack mentioned. “I used to be unsuitable.”
Mack is anticipated to testify towards Mr Raniere, together with different younger girls who declare they have been compelled to have intercourse with Mr Raniere.
Mr Raniere left the nation final 12 months after former members spoke to US media. He was arrested by the FBI in Mexico final 12 months. .
On its web site Nxivm (pronounced nexium) describes itself as a “neighborhood guided by humanitarian rules that search to empower individuals and reply necessary questions on what it means to be human.”
Based mostly in Albany in upstate New York, the group was based as Government Success Packages in 1998 and says it has labored with greater than 16,000 individuals.
Members of the group are reported to incorporate rich heiresses, the son of a former Mexican president and Hollywood actresses.
Mr Raniere and his group have been the topic of controversy for a number of years. Investigative journalist James M. Odato revealed quite a few items within the Occasions Union of Albany Newspaper in 2012 which questioned the group’s practices and in contrast it to a cult.
In 2009 the newspaper wrote a few go to by the Dalai Lama to Albany, which was reportedly sponsored by the Nxivm group. The exiled non secular chief of Tibet denied he was paid for the looks.
After the New York Occasions piece was revealed in 2017 and girls got here ahead, federal authorities started interviewing “witnesses and victims” related to the group.