NXIVM sex cult was a pyramid scheme that swindled millions of dollars out of its members, forced people to undergo medical experiments and falsely claimed to cure conditions, lawsuit says
- Lawsuit filed in Brooklyn on Tuesday accuses NXIVM founder Keith Raniere and his inner circle of running a corrupt organization
- More than 80 former members claim NXIVM duped victims into paying thousands of dollars for classes based on false scientific claims
- Raniere was convicted last year of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves and branding them with their initials
- The lawsuit claims NXIVM exerted their power over its members, took their money and made it financially, physically and psychologically difficult to leave
More than 80 former members of the NXIVM cult that forced people to become sex slaves have filed a lawsuit claiming the self-improvement group was also a pyramid scheme that swindled millions of dollars out of people.
The federal lawsuit filed in Brooklyn on Tuesday accuses NXIVM founder Keith Raniere and his inner circle of running a corrupt organization that duped victims into paying thousands of dollars for classes based on false scientific claims.
Raniere, the guru of the cult that attracted heiresses and Hollywood actresses, was convicted last year of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves through such means as shame, punishment and nude blackmail photos.
In addition to forcing women to become sex slaves and branding them with Raniere’s initials, the lawsuit also details claims of NXIVM carrying out fraud, as well as physical and emotional abuse on its members.
The federal lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn on Tuesday, accuses NXIVM founder Keith Raniere and his inner circle of running a corrupt organization that duped victims into paying thousands of dollars for classes based on false scientific claims
The former members, many of whom are only identified as Jane or John Does, claim NXIVM preyed on people who wanted to better themselves with the cult’s costly self-improvement courses.
NXIVM marketed itself as a personal improvement and professional development training program.
The 200-page lawsuit claims NXIVM exerted their power over its members, took their money and made it financially, physically and psychologically difficult to leave.
Raniere and his associates are accused of obtaining the trust of the victims and forcing them to become dependent on them by using a ‘self-esteem eroding curriculum’ and a ‘dangerous form of psychotherapy’.
NXIVM is also accused of forcing victims to undergo illegal human experiments and falsely claiming they could cure medical conditions like Tourette’s syndrome and OCD.
The members claim NXIVM used psychological treatments that were not scientific and that the methods were actually ‘pseudo-scientific hodgepodge’ that risked serious psychological injury and emotional distress.
At least 40 members of the cult were part of a ‘human fright experiment’ in which electrodes were used on their heads to measure brainwaves, according to the lawsuit.
The members believed they were going to be watching Raniere speak but were actually shown graphic footage or five women being beheaded and dismembered in Mexico.
Many who participated in the courses were left traumatized and broke, according to the lawsuit.
Among Raniere’s adherents were Smallville actress Allison Mack (right) and Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman (left) who were both charged with racketeering
The lawsuit comes as Raniere and several of his associates wait to be sentenced for charges related to their involvement in the cult.
Raniere, who was found guilty on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex, faces life in prison.
Among Raniere’s adherents were co-founder Nancy Salzman, Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman who were all charged with racketeering. They pleaded guilty before facing trial.
Raniere was arrested at a Mexican hideout in 2018 following an investigation into his group.
Mack admitted helping Raniere assemble his harem and collect ‘collateral’ while Bronfman confessed to committing financial crimes for him.
Among those caught up in the group was a daughter of Dynasty TV star Catherine Oxenberg. Her daughter India left NXIVM after her mother publicly spoke out against it.
‘This was a very frightening group,’ Oxenberg said after Raniere was convicted.
‘I had to save a child who was caught in the grips of this cult, so I wasn’t going to stop until I succeeded.’