The trial of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere got underway on Tuesday with opening statements from both the defense and prosecution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Hajjar did not hold back in her remarks, outlining how the defendant made a 15-year-old Mexican national his first sex slave after convincing her and her three sisters to travel with him to upstate New York.
Once there, Hajjar said that Raniere began to rape the girl and make her pose for nude photographs, one of which was shown in court.
In that image the teen could be seen lying on Raniere’s bed, one of the hundreds of graphic nude pictures that the cult leader is said to have kept in his possession over the years.
Vanguard: The trial of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere got underway on Tuesday in Brooklyn with opening statements (Raniere above as an image is shown of an underage girl he shot explicit nude photos of)
Victims: He made a 15-year-old Mexican national his first sex slave after convincing her and her three sisters to travel with him to upstate New York said the US Attorney
Cart: Raniere is facing life in prison if convicted, and has been incarcerated since March 2018 when he was extradited after fleeing to Mexico (files re pushed into court on Tuesday)
Hajjar told jurors that Raniere was also sleeping with his rape victims two older sisters, one of whom he allegedly imprisoned for 21 months when she showed affection for another man.
She was made to write how sorry she was hundreds of times in letters said Hajjar, before eventually being sent back to Mexico.
The youngest sister would stay at Nxivm and become part of DOS according to Hajjatr, who described how at one point she was ordered to enter a room and perform oral sex on a woman who had been blindfolded and tied-up as an offering to Raniere.
She had been referred to as Jane Die 1 in previous court documents while Allison Mack was CC-1.
Jane Doe 1 was his first ‘slave,’ and provided ‘colateral’ which guaranteed she would remain faithful to him by providing Raniere with damning material.
‘CC-1’s email was titled “vow 3” and included an attached letter. The letter pledged CC-1’s “full and complete life” to 14 RANIERE,’ read an early complaint filed in the case.
‘In the letter, CC-1 used the terms “slave” and “master” to refer to herself and RANIERE. Moreover, the letter identified “collateral” to “cement” the vow made by CC-1.
‘This collateral was described as: (1) a letter regarding CC-1 ‘smother and father that would “destroy their character”; (2) a contract that transferred custody of any children birthed by CC-1 to RANIERE if CC-1 broke her commitment to RANIERE; (3) a contract that transferred ownership of CC-1 ‘s home if the commitment to RANIERE was broken; and (4) a letter addressed to social services alleging abuse to CC-1 ‘s nephews.’
It is not clear if any of the claims made in those letters were true.
Soon, CC-1 was recruiting slaves of her own and filling out the pyramid that Raniere had hoped to create, selecting Jane Doe 1 as one of these women.
Depraved: Prosecutor Tany Hajjar said that Raniere began to rape the girl and make her pose for nude photographs, one of which was shown in court
On trial: His youngest victim was also allegedly forced to sexually assault other women for Raniere’s pleasure said the prosecutor
Jane Doe 1 stated that her first meeting with Raniere ended with the leader questioning her devotion, but soon things took a bizarre turn.
‘The next night CC-1 again received a text message from RANIERE, woke Jane Doe 1 in the middle of the night and assigned her to meet RANIERE and tell him she would do anything he asked her to do. Jane Doe 1 did as she was assigned, and RANIERE led her to a house across the street,’ read the complaint.
‘RANIERE directed her to remove all her clothes and made comments about her naked body. RANIERE then blindfolded Jane Doe 1, led her into a car and drove her around in a manner that made Jane Doe 1 believe RANIERE was trying to prevent her from knowing where they were going.
‘RANIERE led, Jane Doe 1, still blindfolded, through some trees, into what she believed was a shack, and tied her to a table.
‘Another person in the room, who Jane Doe 1 did not previously know was present, began performing oral sex on Jane Doe 1 as RANIERE circled the table making comments.
‘Jane Doe 1 did not want to participate in this sexual activity, but believed it was part of her commitment to DOS and that if she broke her commitment to DOS her collateral could be released.’
Jane Doe 1 said that she then began to frequently have sex with Raniere while also frequently posing nude for CC-1, who on one occasion sent ‘close-up pictures of [her slaves’] vaginas’ to Raniere.
This was not the only task Jane Doe 1 had to undertake, as she was also responsible for reading, reviewing and editing Raniere’s writings and texts.
Allegations of Raniere’s alarming and illegal sexual predilections were also outlined in a letter sent by US Attorney Richard P Donoghue to Judge Steven M Gold back in March.
‘According to confidential sources, the defendant had repeated sexual encounters with multiple teenage girls in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s,’ reads the letter.
‘In one instance, the defendant met a fifteen-year-old girl while he was in his 20s and had repeated sexual contact with her. In another instance, the defendant met a twelve-year-old girl whose mother worked for the defendant and began tutoring her.’
The letter goes on to say: ‘Shortly thereafter, the defendant began having regular sexual intercourse with her, including at his home where he lived with multiple adult sexual partners.’
Raniere is also said to have voiced his belief that the age of consent should be lowered to when a parent believes their child is capable to sexual activity.
Mack pleaded guilty last month to blackmailing two women into becoming sex slaves.
Mack, 36, sobbed as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Keith Raniere and the purported self-help group called NXIVM.
‘Through it all, I believed that Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people,’ Mack told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn as she pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
‘I was wrong. I now realize that I and others engaged in criminal conduct.’
The Smallville actress was sobbing so much at one point that the judge stopped to offer her tissues.
She had been charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy , sex trafficking and attempted sex trafficking.
Mack was facing life in prison if convicted on those charges, but will now likely be given a more lenient sentence if she testifies against the other defendants in the case.
Allison Mack, 36, pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn court to blackmailing two women into becoming sex slaves for the leader of the Nxivm sex slave cult
Mack said that at Raniere’s direction, she obtained compromising information and images of two unidentified women – called ‘collateral’ within the group – that she threatened to make public if they didn’t perform ‘so-called acts of love.’
‘I must take full responsibility for my conduct. I am very sorry for my role in this case. I am very sorry to my family and to the good people I hurt through my misguided adherence to (Nxivm leader) Keith Raniere’s teachings,’ she told the court.
After months of reflection since her arrest, Mack told the court: ‘I know I can and will be a better person.’
Court documents obtained by DailyMail.com show that Lauren Salzman appeared before Judge Garaufis in March in an unannounced hearing that was not on the docket.
A redacted transcript from that hearing reveals that Salzman not only informed Judge Garafulis of her plea, but also confessed that she did in fact keep a woman known as Jane Doe 4 captive inside a locked room for two years.
Salzman, 42, also stated that Jane Doe 4 was put to work while enslaved in the room, and revealed that she ‘threatened to deport Jane Doe 4 back to Mexico if she did not complete labor requested by myself and others.’
She later admitted to being a member of DOS during the hearing, and confirmed that women were branded with the initials of Keith Raniere and Allison Mack by a doctor who used a cauterizing pen.
Salzman and the other defendants seemed reluctant to take a plea or distance themselves from Raniere for months, but that all changed just a few days before Salzman’s hearing when the US Attorney’s Office filed new child pornography charges against the Nxivm founder in a superseding indictment.
Mack, 36, wept as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Keith Raniere and the purported self-help group called NXIVM
Mack stood close to her attorney as she left Brooklyn Federal Courthouse on Monday after pleading guilty
Those charges have since been drooped and moved to the Northern District of New York.
Salzman was raised in Nxivm due to her mother’s role as a co-founder of the group, and it was her slave Sarah Edmondson that blew the lid on the organization back in a 2017 interview with The New York Times.
Edmondson went into further detail about her time inside the cult on the CBC podcast Surviving Nxivm.
Nancy broke down in tears as she entered a guilty plea to one count of racketeering while apologizing to her daughter and co-defendant, Lauren.
She said that it took a great deal of soul searching to arrive at her decision, and then struggled to gather herself as she stated: ‘I am deeply sorry for the trouble I have brought to my daughter.’
Nancy did this without a plea deal in place and said she was eager to begin atoning for hers sins, with her crime carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Raniere was also in an ‘intimate relationship’ with billionaire heiress Clare Bronfman, claim the documents, who had previously been funding the legal defense for her five co-defendants but is now distancing herself from the group.
‘I am pleading guilty because I am in fact guilty,’ said a shockingly frank and emotional Nancy.
‘I got involved with NXIVM because I believed we would be helping people, and I still believe some good came out of it.’
Bronfman (center) arrived at court accompanied by her mother (left) and attorney Mark Gergaos (right) in April
Clare Bronfman, pictured arriving at court in April, was the last to flip
On trial: Prosecutors had suggested that they were having trouble agreeing to a deal with Mack, who was the third defendant to plead guilty (Kathy Russell leaving court in April)
The judge scheduled her sentencing for July, and it is unclear if she will now be testifying against her former co-defendants in the case.
‘NXIVM’s teachings and practices are no more inflammatory than the allegations surrounding the predicate acts and charged offenses themselves, which include keeping a woman in a room for nearly two years, nonconsensual sex, extreme diets and sleep deprivation, sexually explicit photographs and branding of Raniere’s initials on women’s bodies without their knowledge,’ states the new prosecution filing, submitted on Monday.
The memo also details how the government plans to show the ways that the defendants ‘protected Raniere and the Enterprise by, among other things, attempting to silence and intimidate DOS slaves and issuing public statements falsely denying Raniere’s involvement in DOS.’
One example that is offered involves comment that Bronfman made after she ‘received letters from separate DOS victims requesting the return or destruction of collateral, which included descriptions of the collateral, including nude photographs and videos.’
Despite having seen those letters, Bronfman still publicly stated that DOS was a ‘sorority’ which had ‘truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely.’
She went on to state: ‘I find no fault in a group of women (or men for that matter) freely taking a vow of loyalty and friendship with one another to feel safe while pushing back against the fears that have stifled their personal and professional growth.’
A brief mention is also made of a campaign launched by Bronfman and Raniere to lure former members to Mexico where there were reportedly warrants out for their arrest.
Prosecutors also plan to hone in on the subservient role that woman play and are taught to play in the organization.
‘Nxivm’s teachings about women’s allegedly prideful natures and willingness to ‘play the victim,’ and the emphasis in Nxivm’s teachings on penances and ‘ethical breaches,’ are interwoven into Jane Doe 4 and the DOS victims’ experiences,’ states the memo.
‘These concepts also appear throughout the documents that will be trial exhibits, including emails between the victims and the defendants.’
It then cites: ‘For example, Jane Doe 4 and Raniere exchanged at least 300 emails discussing her supposed ‘breach’ and approximately 400 emails discussing her acting like a ‘victim.”