NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack appeared before a federal judge in Brooklyn Friday morning along with Keith Raniere, the leader of the self-help group NXIVM.
A trial date has been set for Oct. 1 on charges of sex trafficking. They have denied wrongdoing.
The pair is accused of coercing women who joined the organization into becoming a part of a secret sub-group where they were expected to act as “slaves” and engage in sex acts.
Mack, the former celebrity face of the self-improvement group, was released to stay with her parents in California, and arrangements were made for her to be on house arrest in California. She is scheduled to appear back in court next month, one of several appearances expected before trial.
Her defense lawyers Sean Buckley and William McGovern of the law firm Kobre & Kim previously had entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf in a Brooklyn courtroom.
Raniere, 57, was the leader of a secretive group accused of coercing female followers into having sex and getting branded with his initials.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Indictment (.pdf)
A core group of disciples was drawn to Raniere, including actresses, wealthy heiresses and a son of a former president of Mexico. His followers were known as “Nxians,” and were “encouraged to pay for additional [NXIVM] classes and to recruit others to take classes in order to rise within the ranks of NXIVM,” prosecutors said.
Proscutors said NXIVM “maintains features of a pyramid scheme.” They allege Raniere created a secret society within NXIVM called “DOS,” in which “masters” held “slaves.” All members of the DOS group except for Raniere, who was at the top of the Master/Slave group, prosectors said.
“Many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas using a cauterizing pen with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, incorporated Raniere’s initials,” prosecutors said. “During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and a master would order one slave to film the branded while the others restrained the slave being branded.”
Mack allegedly “required her slaves… to engage in sexual activity with Raniere.”
Raniere and Mack each face a minimum of 15 years in prison and could get life if convicted.
In March, federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence near Albany where NXIVM was headquartered. The organization also ran programs in Mexico.
Raniere’s followers included Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram liquor fortune, and Emiliano Salinas Occelli, son of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who with a business partner controlled the Raniere-linked Executive Success Programs in Mexico.
Catherine Oxenberg, who once starred on “Dynasty,” became connected to the group when she attended a meeting with her daughter several years ago. She has said she was turned off by it but her daughter remained a devotee.
Founded in 1998, NXIVM promoted Raniere’s teachings as a kind of mystical, executive coaching designed to help people get the most out of life. Enrollees in its Executive Success Programs paid handsomely for his advice, but the organization also drew criticism from people who likened it to a cult.
Last year, the accusations took a new twist, with women who were part of the DOS subgroup coming forward to say that they had been physically branded near their pelvises with a surgical tool against their will.
“This is just the beginning of what needs to happen to stop the reign of terror that Keith Raniere and NXIVM has,” said Raniere’s ex-girlfriend Toni Natalie.
Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, previously said his client is innocent.
“The facts will show that Raniere didn’t compel or pressure anyone to do anything and that everyone was acting in accordance with his or her free will at every instant,” he said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)