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NXIVM Sex Cult Survivors Worry Allison Mack Is Getting Off Easy

·6-min read
Drew Angerer/Getty
Drew Angerer/Getty

For years, prosecutors say former Smallville actress Allison Mack served as NXIVM founder Keith Raniere’s second in command, dutifully recruiting women into a separate sect within the shadowy organization in upstate New York for the self-help guru’s own sexual gratification.

The 39-year-old was arrested in 2018 with Raniere and other top members of the group that preached personal growth through sacrifice. But even as she pleaded guilty to several charges a year later, she claimed her actions were the result of “misguided adherence” to Raniere’s teachings.

Notably, Mack did not testify at Raniere’s trial. But prosecutors revealed for the first time on Monday that the former actress provided crucial information, including damning audio, in the case against the cult leader. “Although Mack could have provided even more substantial assistance had she made the decision to cooperate earlier, Mack provided significant, detailed, and highly corroborated information which assisted the government in its prosecution,” prosecutors said in the detention memo.

They asked for a term below the 14 years in prison sentencing guidelines state she should receive for her crimes, which include racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Now, former NXIVM members fear someone they describe as a top player in a robust criminal organization might get off easy.

“I tend to believe any woman, be it from NXIVM or not, would feel too light a sentence for Allison might somehow normalize or condone women abusing other women,” Ivy Nevares, a former long-time NXIVM member, told The Daily Beast.

How My Long Journey to Overcome Sexual Abuse Landed Me in NXIVM

Another former NXIVM member, who did not wish to be named for fear of personal retribution, told The Daily Beast the idea Mack could get a slap on the wrist was “devastating.”

“Indirectly and directly, she made scores of women suffer. It would be really sad to see her get away with it because she saved her own skin,” the former member said.

Mack’s lawyers, who are expected to file their own sentencing memo ahead of their client’s June 30 sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court, declined to comment for this story. Federal prosecutors declined to comment.

Prosecutors say Mack turned over emails, documents, and several recordings, including one chilling taped conversation where Raniere provided her with details on how to perform a notorious branding ceremony for his “slaves.” Those women were part of the ultra-secretive club “DOS,” where some NXIVM women would be forced to brand themselves with Raniere’s initials near their crotch with a cautery pen—without anesthesia—and have sex with him.

Mack’s tape was played during Raniere’s trial, helping prove that he not only knew about the “sorority” within NXIVM—which he previously denied—but helped coordinate its logistics. Raniere was ultimately convicted of a slew of crimes and sentenced to 121 years in prison.

But despite the revelation that Mack turned against the man once referred to as “the Vanguard” and provided crucial information to bring him down, former NXIVM members still don’t believe she should see any reduced prison time.

After all, during Raniere’s trial, several women testified about Mack’s treatment of her fellow NXIVM members, including how she would allegedly store naked photos of newly-branded women to blackmail them into becoming sex slaves for Raniere.

Nicole, a 31-year-old actress from California who first became involved in NXIVM in 2016 after being recruited by Mack at an acting class, described how she was manipulated into joining DOS under the guise that it was a women’s empowerment group.

During the time in DOS, Nicole testified, Mack requested she perform a slew of “confusing” tasks, including staying celibate for three months, reaching out to Raniere over Facebook, and adhering to an extremely low-calorie diet.

“Allison told me to tell Keith that I would do anything he wanted me to do. Then she told me to go be a good slave,” Nicole testified in 2019. Eventually, Nicole said, Raniere blindfolded her and bound her to a table where she was sexually assaulted by another slave.

In the sentencing memo, prosecutors also detail how Mack was a “master” in “DOS” who recruited her own slaves and forced them to provide collateral—or damning information that would ensure “slaves” would be submitted to “masters”—on a regular basis.

Mack herself has admitted to some of the allegations, tearfully telling U.S. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in April 2019 that she recruited women into the group to promote Raniere’s teachings to any cost, including blackmail.

“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 Keith Raniere’s teachings,” Mack said. “I was a member of a secret society founded by Keith Raniere. I concealed Keith Raniere’s role as the head of DOS.”

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahman, however, believes that despite Mack’s cooperation and confession, she still needs to do serious time.

“To go down from 14 years to home confinement or probation would be a miscarriage of justice,” he told The Daily Beast.

Prosecutors did not specify what sentence they recommend for Mack in their sentencing memo.

“Allison Mack was involved in some pretty heinous activity, and the fact that she cooperated does not mitigate anything she did,” Rahman added. “While she did not do the bare minimum in cooperating with prosecutors, she didn’t go out of her way to help either. She was a non-cooperating witness that prosecutors did not end up putting on the stand. She didn’t go out of the way to help make sure justice was served.”

Rahman went on to suggest that if prosecutors decided to “not give her a significant, multi-year prison sentence,” the other women involved in NXIVM’s nefarious activities may “see the rewards.”

Those former top NXIVM leaders who have also pleaded guilty to racketeering charges include co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren, a top lieutenant; and the group’s bookkeeper, Kathy Russell. Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram’s fortune and NXIVM’s largest donor, was sentenced last September to 81 months in prison and has publicly confirmed her steadfast loyalty to Raniere.

“Whatever the court decides, I hope it serves as a just framework for the next sentences,” Nevares, the former NXIVM member, said.

She added that she was not surprised Mack turned on Raniere—and argued she shouldn’t be rewarded for it.

“It was natural for the women to do what they had to do to save their own skin once they realized Raniere was going down,” she said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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