Left Menu
Development News Edition

American 'self-help' guru goes on trail for running women sex slaves society

Devdiscourse News Desk | New York | Updated: 07-05-2019 16:37 IST | Created: 07-05-2019 13:56 IST
American 'self-help' guru goes on trail for running women sex slaves society
Based in Albany, the state capital of New York, the organisation had centres in several cities across the US, Canada, Mexico and other Central American countries. Image Credit: Pixabay

The trial of an American "self-help" guru who for years presided over a secretive society of women sex slaves begins Tuesday in New York, where his former female supporters may be called to testify against him. Six people had been due to appear in the dock, but 58-year-old Keith Raniere will now be the only one to stand trial.

The other five -- all women who held management positions in various organisations headed by Raniere, including US actress Allison Mack -- have pleaded guilty one by one and avoided going on trial. "Vanguard", as Raniere was also known, was the leader of Nxivm, a purported executive coaching organisation which according to prosecutors served to extort money from followers and enable him to exploit women sexually.

More than 16,000 people over two decades passed through Raniere's self-help workshops, which promised to develop their "human potential", charging $5,000 for a 5-day course. Many who signed up quickly became indebted and ended up having to work for Nxivm (pronounced Nexium), the main organisation, to pay their fees.

From the beginning, Raniere is believed to have had a circle of 15 to 20 women under his influence, with whom he had sex at will. As with many sects, everything rested on the powerful psychological influence of the guru, who used a mixture of pseudo-philosophical teachings, close oversight and humiliation to assert control.

A charismatic man with sleek long hair, beard and circular glasses, Raniere demanded that the women follow an extremely low-calorie diet. Based in Albany, the state capital of New York, the organisation had centres in several cities across the US, Canada, Mexico and other Central American countries.

In 2015 Raniere created a secretive pyramid organisation within the group known as DOS, which included "slaves" and "masters". All members were women except for Raniere, at the top of the pyramid. Among the duties of the "slaves" was to have sex with Raniere.

Before being accepted as "slaves" the women had to provide compromising photos, letters and other documents that the organisation could make public if they left DOS. Some were branded with Raniere's initials on their flesh using a cautery pen. The victims were held still by other women and filmed during the branding ceremonies.

After the defection of several members and an article in the New York Times exposed his activities, Raniere fled to Mexico in October 2017. He was arrested the following March at a luxurious villa in the seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta. Raniere faces charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy. If convicted, he could face life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The female supporters' cooperation with Brooklyn federal prosecutor Richard Donoghue leaves open the possibility the five could testify at the trial against their former mentor, and further lift the veil on the sect. The prosecution has not publicly disclosed its list of witnesses.

But the Albany Times Union said one of the five women, Lauren Salzman, was set to attend. According to exchanges during the selection of jurors, "Smallville" actress Mack, who was close to Raniere and pleaded guilty to racketeering charges last month, could also be called by the prosecution. The trial is expected to last around six weeks.



Why COVID-19 is unstoppable in USA despite it being ranked at the top of GHS Index?

Several worst-hit countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Russia have peaked COVID-19 cases in April. Almost all of them have gradually flattened the curve. However, the USA is setting new daily records of infections tha...

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...


Latest News

U.S. Supreme Court's Ginsburg in hospital after possible infection

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was admitted to a hospital on Tuesday morning for treatment of a possible infection, a court spokeswoman said. The Justice is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to...

Airbnb bookings pick up, cross 1 million mark on a single day

Home rental firm Airbnb Inc said on Tuesday it recorded more than 1 million bookings globally on July 8, offering an early sign of recovery after a slowdown in reservations during the COVID-19 pandemic.A major part of the bookings are for t...

Hebrew University researcher claims existing drug can 'downgrade' COVID threat to common cold level

A widely used anti-cholesterol drug, fenofibrate, can downgrade the danger-level of coronavirus to that of a common cold, a Hebrew University HU academic has claimed after testing it on infected human tissue. Professor Yaakov Nahmias, dir...

Trump administration rescinds international students visa policy

The Trump administration has agreed to rescind its July 6 rule, which temporarily bared international students from staying in the United States unless they attend at least one in-person course, a federal district court judge said on Tuesda...

Give Feedback