NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tuesday was sentencing day for Keith Raniere – and it’s a massive sentence.
He’s the disgraced upstate New York self-improvement guru convicted of turning women into sex slaves in his organization, called NXIVM.
Raniere got 120 years. That means he will serve life in prison.
Nxivm founder and leader Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison.
— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) October 27, 2020
The 60-year-old was convicted of multiple crimes including racketeering and sex trafficking last year.
For hours, the court heard statements from 15 of Keith Raniere’s victims, detailing years of emotional and sexual abuse after becoming a part of NXIVM, which Raniere started.
Several women, including a 15-year-old girl, were groomed to have sex with him, and even branded with Raniere’s initials.
Barbara Bouchey was the first to leave in 2009.
“It’s been 20 years of my life and a lot of it’s very traumatic, so, you know, post traumatic stress wears on you and it’s very debilitating, so my body is not a happy camper but my mind is clear, my heart is solid, my spirit is good,” she said.
Founded in Albany in 1998, NXIVM offered self-help courses through its Executive Success Programs, eventually opening centers across North America. The U.S. Attorney said he trafficked one victim from Mexico and confined her to a room for nearly two year.
“These are all terrible things. But it is the psychological and existential injuries which will continue for the rest of our lives… that I find the most heinous,” former member Mark Vicente said in a statement.
“It is our sincere hope that today’s sentence does deliver some measure of justice for those victims who suffered in immeasurable and numerous ways,” acting U.S. attorney Seth DuCharme said.
Raniere’s lawyer asked for a 20-year sentence.
Raniere spoke before sentencing, saying he had no remorse for the crimes because he didn’t commit them. He said in part “I do believe strongly that I’m innocent of the charges, but it is also true I see all this pain.”
Clare Bronfman, 41, an heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, was previously sentenced to nearly seven years behind bars for her role in the organization. Ex-followers told the judge that Bronfman for years had used her wealth to try to silence NXIVM defectors.
Actress Allison Mack is awaiting sentencing.
In a last ditch effort to delay sentencing, a group of supporters, who call themselves the “NXIVM Five,” alleged Monday to have proof of evidence tampering.
“We have submitted a letter to the judge sharing with him an independent report corroborated by multiple experts,” a group member said.
Reniere’s followers called him “Vanguard.” To honor him, the group formed a secret sorority comprised of female “slaves” who were branded with his initials and ordered to have sex with him, the prosecutors said. Women were also pressured into giving up embarrassing information about themselves that could be used against them if they left the group.
Along with Bronfman, Raniere’s teachings won him the devotion of Hollywood actors including Mack, of TV’s “Smallville.”
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)