Lawyers for the six defendants facing federal sex trafficking, forced labor, and racketeering charges for their alleged leadership roles in long-running controversial self-help group Nxivm have filed motions seeking a dismissal of all the criminal counts.
A motion from Nxivm founder Keith Raniere’s attorneys describes Nxivm — which at least one former member has described as a “cult” — as a “wonderful humanitarian organization” that is “dedicated to achieving peace on a global scale.”
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The filing adds: “If there was a polar-opposite of an organized crime family, Nxivm would be it.”
The motion further claims that “Nxivm members have sought to end the violence in Mexico, have introduced tools useful to people with difficult conditions, such as Tourette’s syndrome, have pioneered multi-linguistic schools for young children, who would become proficient in multiple languages and later multi-cultural adults, and have developed approaches to help people lead happier, more productive, more enriched lives.”
Raniere and five others — including actress Allison Mack of Smallville fame — are accused of sex trafficking, forced labor, racketeering, wire fraud and other charges for their roles in Nxivm, which operated out of Albany but suspended operations last spring.
Raniere was arrested in March in Mexico and remains in custody without bail. Mack was released on bail, and like Raniere, has pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set to begin in March 2019. (All other defendants have pleaded not guilty as well.)
Federal investigators have accused Mack of recruiting women into “DOS,” a sub-group of Nxivm, purported to be a female mentorship group to address their weaknesses but was actually a group created by Raniere that allegedly took advantage of women sexually.
“The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit,” Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, alleged in a statement issued at the time of Mack’s arrest.
In April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York alleged Mack was an integral member of Nxivm, and was just below Raniere in “DOS” — which, according to a statement from prosecutors, is “an acronym standing for a Latin phrase that loosely translates to ‘Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions.’”
Mack allegedly had “slaves” beneath her, and either “directly or implicitly required” at least two women “to engage in sexual activity with Raniere” and that “in exchange, for this, Mack received financial and other benefits from Raniere,” prosecutors alleged in the statement.
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In order to join “DOS,” members had to turn over “collateral” — explicit, incriminating, or damaging material they could be blackmailed with — and submit to being branded with Raniere’s initials.
The judge had yet to rule on any of the six motions.