NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge has denied a request by TV actress Allison Mack for more time to negotiate a plea deal in the sex-trafficking case against an upstate New York self-help group.
Lawyers for Mack had asked federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis to delay a trial that’s set to begin next month.
Mack is best known for her role playing a young Superman’s close friend in the CW network series “Smallville.” Prosecutors have accused her of recruiting sex slaves for Keith Raniere and his cult-like organization called NXIVM.
Raniere has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges. Two members of his inner circle have pleaded guilty, while Mack and two other co-defendants are seeking separate trials.
There was no immediate response to a message on Saturday seeking comment from one of Mack’s lawyers.
On Friday, Lauren Salzman quietly pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. She entered the plea at a hearing that wasn’t on the court calendar. Afterward, a judge agreed to seal a transcript until parts of it could be blacked out.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on Friday about how the plea was handled.
Salzman, 42, was one of the four co-defendants on conspiracy charges along with Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, 39; Kathy Russell, 60; and Nancy Salzman, 64.
Authorities say Raniere ran a secret society of sex slaves who were branded with his initials with help from Mack and liquor heiress Clare Bronfman. Prosecutors allege a sub-group branded brainwashed victims with Raniere’s initials during initiation ceremonies that turned them into his sex slaves.
Raniere’s attorneys say in court filings the women were never coerced to have sex, and the branded women were never held down against their will.
A second indictment adds racketeering charges involving conspiracy to commit identity theft, seeking to get the e-mail usernames and passwords of Raniere’s critics and enemies, using credit card and banking information from one of Raniere’s sexual partners after her death in November 2016.
Bronfman pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy in Brooklyn federal court in June. Kathy Russell, Lauren Salzman, Nancy Salzman, and Bronfman were arrested on a superseding indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy.
The document 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.
NXIVM was the topic of a CBC News podcast “Uncover: Escaping NXIVM” focusing on Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson’s experience with and leaving the group.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)