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NXIVM Cult Leader Keith Raniere Gets 120 Years In Prison


keith rainere lecture on HBO's the vow

After a substantial delay due to COVID and other investigations into sentencing, NXIVM leader and abusive cult mastermind Keith Raniere has been sentenced to 120 years in prison, following his convictions on multiple counts of sex trafficking, conspiracy, and racketeering.

Raniere and NXIVM rose to prominence as a self-help multi-level marketing scheme where Raniere touted his special “technology” as something that was able to help people live better lives and achieve their goals in their trademark “Executive Success Program.” Of course, there was no technology, merely recycled psychobabble mixed with neurolinguistic programming as developed by Raniere’s partner in crime, Nancy Salzman. The organization was all about inspiring devotion and obedience to make more money and, in the darkest inner circles, to compel women to live as slaves to Raniere and other high-ranking women in his circle.

The NXIVM story, and the details of the secret inner organization known as DOS (for Dominant Over Submissive), termed a “sex cult,”  has received widespread attention since it broke, thanks to the involvement in NXIVM of many C-list celebrities. Smallville’s Allison Mack rose to be Raniere’s second-in-command in the DOS scheme, managing her own “slaves” and forcing them to have sex with Raniere, among other things. Mack herself is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to multiple charges last year.

Interest in Raniere and his sentence has only grown this year as NXIVM has become the subject of multiple television documentaries and a podcast. The Vow, one of the documentaries which recently finished airing its first season on HBO will apparently get into Raniere’s side of the story in season two, but he’ll have to tell it from prison.

Raniere pled for a shorter sentence but also expressed absolutely no regret for his actions in court before sentencing, and his lawyers saying her was not sorry for his choices. Judge Nicholas Garaufis was apparently not impressed with this as he handed down Raniere’s 120-year sentence.

This means that the 60-year-old Raniere will spend the rest of his life behind bars, barring appeals and parole. It seems like a fitting fate for a man who sought to keep so many women as his prisoners.

(via CBC News, image: HBO/Screencap)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.