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Allison Mack Sentenced to Only 3 Years in Prison for Her Role in NXIVM Cult Leadership

Allison Mack exits court with her arms folded, looking down, wearing a denim jacket.

Smallville actress Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for her role in the NXIVM cult. Mack pled guilty last spring to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges in relation to her leadership role in the cult, which included, among other things, recruiting young women into a secret sect known as D.O.S.

NXIVM presented itself as a sort of self-help organization. But D.O.S. was designed to bring in and break down young women, with the ultimate goal of coercing them into having sex with the cult’s leader, Keith Raniere. Numerous recent documentaries and docu-series about the organization went into depth exploring the tactics used by Raniere, Mack, and others in positions of leadership in D.O.S., including severely restricting women’s calorie intake, implementing a “master-slave” system, collecting “collateral” (AKA blackmail), and branding—burning a symbol that appeared to combine Raniere and Mack’s initials into the women’s bodies near their genitals.

While Mack wasn’t likely to get anywhere near the 120 years Raniere received as his sentence, three years (plus 1,000 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine) is far less than the 14-17.5 years recommended by sentencing guidelines. And it’s definitely less than many of her victims were hoping for.

The master-slave dynamic of D.O.S. was able to blur the lines between who in NXIVM was a victim and who was an abuser. Many women were forced to be both. But we know that Mack’s role in the cult was different from other women, and that she and Raniere conspired in the entire creation and orchestration of D.O.S.

In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis called out Mack’s attempts to leverage her celebrity status in recruiting vulnerable young women, many of them aspiring actors. He didn’t hide his disgust at the ways in which Mack tried to sell an idea of mentorship and sisterhood to these women, only to betray their trust to such an extreme degree.

“By many accounts, you were able to use your status as a well-known public figure to gain credibility and influence with Nxivm and DOS recruits,” Garaufis wrote. “You abused this position of power to persuade and pressure women to join DOS. You capitalized on your celebrity and these individuals’ eagerness to be close to you, told them you were recruiting them for a ‘women’s empowerment’ sorority, and misrepresented and obscured fundamental facts about the organization and the conditions of membership. You told them that Keith Raniere was not involved. You did not tell them that they would be required to engage in sexual conduct.”

He went on to write:

And what did you direct them to do, using your leverage? You directed them to subject themselves to extreme sleep and food deprivation and geographical isolation, and to perform uncompensated labor whenever asked, often for your own benefit or gain. You directed them to submit nude photographs of themselves, and to be branded on their pubic areas with a symbol that, unbeknownst to them, included Mr. Raniere’s initials. And in several cases, you directed your slaves to engage in sexual contact with Mr. Raniere. You used your leverage, your power over these women, to recruit and groom them as sexual partners for Mr. Raniere, and to pressure them into engaging in sexual acts that – according to their testimony – they did not want to engage in and would not have engaged in voluntarily.

This court, in sentencing Mr. Raniere, made it very clear how seriously it views the conduct for which he was convicted. When it comes to DOS, and the monstrous crimes he committed in connection with that organization, you were an essential accomplice. You willingly enslaved, destabilized, and manipulated other women so that when they were at their most vulnerable, when they believed that they owed you total obedience and that anything less than that would cause them serious personal and financial harm, when you had taken from them their sense of agency to make their own choices, you gave them “special assignments” to satisfy Mr. Raniere’s sexual interests. Mr. Raniere could not have done that without you. You did that together. The evidence presented at his trial demonstrated that you were not a begrudging or passive enabler, but rather that you were a willing and proactive ally.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.