One of the organizers of a nightly dance party outside the Metropolitan Detention Center federal jail in Brooklyn acknowledged in a rambling interview Wednesday that he has close ties to the Nxivm sex cult — but claimed the two movements were unrelated.
Eduardo Asunsolo, who is organizing the dances outside the MDC with his group the Forgotten Ones, said in an interview posted to their website that he was a former “teacher” at Nxivm and has been a friend of the cult’s leader, Keith Raniere, for a decade.
Asunsolo, who said he wasn’t going to “defend Nxivm,” spoke glowingly of the group and said it has been misrepresented in the media. He ranted about news reports on the dances, claiming they misrepresented participants — then compared the coverage to Nazi Germany and systemic racism against African Americans.
“I was a teacher in Nxivm and Keith Raniere is my friend. He’s been my friend for 10 years,” Asunsolo said. “It’s interesting that if you go and you read the news and you judge the people that appear in the news just by what appears in the news, that’s what happens.”
“That’s why there’s millions of black people in jail because prejudice rendered them defenseless and if we do that again with another group because you call it a sex cult … it’s no different,” he went on.
After a report in the Albany Times Union identified several dancers as having ties to the cult, Asunsolo described the coverage as attempts to attack the movement. He elaborated that seven members of Nxivm have been involved in the dances, but that others who have shown up have no connection to Raniere.
A small group of dancers were back again Wednesday night, grooving to hip-hop and other dance beats outside the notorious detention center as passing drivers honked in approval.
Raniere is awaiting sentencing at the Metropolitan Detention Center and faces 15 years to life in prison on charges including racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy. Jurors in Raniere’s trial found him guilty of running a sadistic sex-slave ring within Nxivm called DOS, which convinced women to be branded with his initials and do his sexual bidding.
Asunsolo distanced the cult from the dance movement, which he said is focused on entertaining inmates while calling to reform the carceral state.
“I just don’t want to make this movement about [Nxivm],” he said. “I’m going around trying to get on radio, trying to get on TV, just to bring the focus back on the dance for the people in there.”
He added: “Why are we talking about sex cults? Why are we talking about things like that?”
Asunsolo claimed Nxivm was an umbrella company with “great” human potential and OCD programs that was taken down due to a “character assassination” against Raniere.
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