NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Authorities moved in civil court Wednesday to seize two properties where investigators say the leader of the accused sex cult NXIVM allegedly treated women as “slaves” to perform sexual rituals and surrender self incriminating videos.
The latest complaint also alleges an unidentified actress in her early 30s was forced to give access to her credit cards to her “master,” participate in various sex acts – once while blindfolded with an unknown partner – and use $1,000 in cash given out of a bag of money to pay for regular trips between Halfmoon, N.Y., and a residence in Brooklyn.
Last month authories filed criminal sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy charges against former “Smallville” star Allison Mack, 35, and group leader Keith Raniere – also known as “Vanguard” – in connection to the NXIVM group, pronounced “Nex-i-um.”
The new complaint filed in United States District Court seeks to foreclose on two properties in the Town of Halfmoon in upstate New York, about 15 miles from the NXIVM group’s headquarters in Albany.
The document also gave some insight into other rituals and practices of the NXIVM group, which authorities say grew out of a previous enterprise called Executive Success Programs, Inc. (“ESP”) founded in 1998 by Raniere and Nancy Salzman.
“Every year in August, Nxians celebrate ‘Vanguard Week’ in honor of Raniere’s birthday,” the complaint said. “Nancy Salzman is referred to as ‘The Prefect’; by Nxians, and her birthday is celebrated in May with the ‘Festival of Flowers.'”
The complaint also described women’s roles in the empowerment group compared to the men, and especially Raniere as its leader.
Based on information obtained during the course of this investigation, since ESP’s founding, Raniere has maintained a rotating group of fifteen to twenty women with whom he maintains sexual relationships. These women are not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationships with Raniere. Some of the Nxivm curriculum includes teachings about the need for men to have multiple sexual partners and the need for women to be monogamous.
As “slaves” to their “masters,” investigators say women were expected to record “collateral” videos professing true and untrue confessions about themselves and others. Investigators allege some participants were branded on their skin with a symbol that incorporated Raniere’s initials.
The complaint also described how NXIVM operated self-development courses costing $1,000 a day for five days, and used colored sashes worn by members to identify ranks of “goal levels” of recruitment, similar to how a so-called “pyramid scheme” multilevel marketing group operates.
Last month, a woman from Albany described being approached by NXIVM member Allison Mack on a possible effort to recruit her into the group.
Police noted Raniere ran a multilevel marketing scheme called Consumers Buyline which was shut down by the New York Attorney General’s office in 1997.