Clare Bronfman, the Seagram’s heiress, was sentenced on Wednesday for her role in the NXIVM (nex-ee-um) cult. She is to spend six years and nine months in prison, a federal judge ruled according to The New York Times.
Prosecutors said she was a bankroller behind NXIVM honcho Keith Raniere, putting out at least $116 million to fund the ostensible self-help organization. She ended up pleading guilty to charges of identify theft and immigration fraud.
Raniere was found guilty in June 2019 on a slew of charges, including racketeering, and sex trafficking conspiracy. Authorities said this male defendant was sexually abusive and controlling of women who joined the organization. Trial revealed a slew of lurid allegations. For example, a number of the women were branded with Raniere’s initials. One victim identified as Daniela said he encouraged her to get an abortion as a way to lose weight.
He would recruit other women to help establish control. Case in point: Smallville actress Allison Mack, who also pleaded guilty in the case.
“This was supposed to be a woman’s empowerment group,” said woman identified as Nicole in 2019. “How is it empowering to make us take off our clothes to send photos to a man?”
Victims said in court Wednesday that Bronfman used her considerable resources to retaliate against them if they tried to leave NXIVM, but the defendant told the judge in an August letter that she would not disown Raniere.
“Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and Nxivm, and that I have not is hard for them to understand and accept,” she wrote. “However, for me, Nxivm and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.”
Some of the women at Wednesday’s hearing called on her to disavow Raniere.
“I pray that you will take the claws of Keith Raniere out of you, and you will learn who Clare Bronfman really is,” Susan Dones said. “He is killing you.”
[Screengrab via New York Post]
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