An exotic commitment renewal ceremony with his front-line followers was nothing more than a “group (oral sex)” session for alleged sex cult leader Keith Raniere that was interrupted when federal agents busted into his Mexican hideaway to arrest him, a former member testified Tuesday.
NXIVM lieutenant Lauren Salzman said she was taking a nap with Raniere before the “ceremony” began when agents surrounded the villa in March 2018.
Inside were several other women followers, one of whom screamed out “The police are at the door ... They’re here for Keith.”
Salzman said she immediately went into protective mode, urging Raniere to flee while she tried to stall the feds, who stood outside the house armed with machine guns.
“I ran and tried to protect Keith,” Saltzman told jurors at Raniere’s sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“`You need to leave,’” she said she told him, begging him to flee out a window.
“Honestly, I went into one mode — protect Keith. I closed all the doors, all the blinds.”
Raniere, instead, hid in a walk-in closet while Salzman and the other women tried to hold off the agents.
“They were banging on the door,” Salzman said. “The whole time I was thinking they could just shoot through the door. Legitimately, I might get shot right now. I kept interacting with them because my higher priority was Keith.”
Raniere told her to ask if they had a warrant.
“Open the door and I’ll show it to you,” the agent said.
Moments later, the agents knocked down the door and made the arrest.
“They held me on the floor with four machine guns pointing at me,” Salzman said.
For months afterwards, Salzman said, she blamed herself for Raniere’s arrest.
This was how she felt even after confronting Raniere about the commitment ceremony after another one of the women told her it involved a “group b-----b.”
“It’s going to be us pleasuring him,” she said the woman told her.
Salzman said that when she confronted Raniere, he told her that the other woman was more committed.
“There has to be a way I can grow that isn’t this?” she asked him.
“There is not,” he told her.
Raniere, 58, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges. He claims his encounters with the alleged victims were consensual. Five of Raniere’s co-defendants, including Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman and“Smallville” actress Allison Mack, have pleaded guilty.
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