The NXIVM Loyalists Are Not Backing Down

Keith Raniere may have been sentenced to 120 years in prison, but some of his most devoted followers remain unswayed.

Vanity Fair/November 11, 2020

By Dan Adler

Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison last month, on charges including sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of a child. A few weeks earlier, Clare Bronfman was sentenced to 81 months for her role in facilitating Raniere’s ring of abuse. A pair of documentary series have been made about NXIVM’s crimes, and Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter India spent seven years in the group, recently told Vanity Fair, “They shut down your emotional center and your ability to love in this cult.”

Despite the spate of revelations about NXIVM, though, some of its followers have remained loyal to the organization, according to a new New York Times report. As the paper notes, eight of Raniere’s supporters released videos last month in which they said their branding, one of the group’s most notorious aspects, was consensual, and that they hadn’t been forced into sex with him. Even as public awareness of Raniere’s crimes grew, some supporters danced outside the jail in Brooklyn where he was held.

Those who continue to stand by Raniere and NXIVM have continue to push back on how the organization has been portrayed. Nicki Clyne, an actor who was in Battlestar Galactica, told the Times that her marriage to the Smallville actor Allison Mack was “born from genuine love.” Mack has pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy after recruiting women for NXIVM, and she is currently awaiting sentencing. As the Times notes, prosecutors have called the marriage a “sham” that allowed Clyne, who was born in Canada, to stay in the United States. Clyne, who has not been charged, also denied prosecutors’ claim that she had directed some women in NXIVM to move what was known within the group as “collateral,” such as nude photographs and access to financial assets, from their computers onto hard drives that they gave to her lawyer.

Ivy Nevares, who the Times said dated Raniere, gave the paper a different account. At his sentencing, she said that he required her to weigh 95 pounds and be constantly available for sex. Nevares told the Times that she needed almost a year after leaving NXIVM before she stopped seeing Raniere as a “Jesus-type figure,” adding, “I was in the bubble of NXIVM for so long that I didn’t know how I could navigate the world.”

“If you want to go on believing he’s God on Earth, that’s fine,” Nevares also said. “But don’t go around enrolling people into this very dangerous criminal organization.”

In addition to Mack, three other women in Raniere’s inner circle are awaiting sentencing dates after pleading guilty to lesser crimes. Clyne told the Times that she and other Raniere supporters are currently reviewing trial evidence and “keeping an open mind.”

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