It was reported in early 2018 that Keith Raniere, leader of a cult based in Albany, New York, had been arrested alongside former Smallville actor Allison Mack and several other high-level associates. Among the many crimes for which they were indicted, the members were accused of sex trafficking. In April 2019, Mack herself plead guilty, as she recruited female members for the sole purpose of becoming sex slaves for Raniere.
On Wednesday, the jury deliberated for less than five hours before finding Raniere guilty on all charges, which included sex trafficking, conspiracy and possession of child pornography.
The cult operated using Nxivm as a front. The organization claimed to aid members in self-improvement, something that Raniere maintained throughout the six-week trial. His defense team also maintained that any and all sex acts performed were consensual and cited text and other messages between Raniere and the former members of the cult.
Several former members testified to witnessing women being branded with Raniere's initials in a mock dungeon and being forced to engage in acts of a sexual nature. The slave members, some of which were as young as 15 years old, were coerced by the female masters to take humiliating photos and offer other compromising material that Raniere could use as collateral in order to ensure submission and secrecy.
Upon hearing the verdict, a round of applause was reportedly given to the prosecution team by former members of the cult. Assistant U.S. attorney, Moira Perez stated, "a light has been shown into the darkness and the defendant’s crimes have been exposed."
(via The Hollywood Reporter)