Convicted NXIVM Founder Keith Raniere Claims He's 'Innocent' In Rare Interview Ahead of Sentencing

Keith Raniere

Raniere has not spoken publicly since his arrest more than two years ago.

Convicted NXIVM founder Keith Raniere claims he's "innocent" in a new and rare interview with Dateline and NBC News on Friday. This marks one of his first times speaking out since his arrest more than two years ago. He was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy and racketeering.

"You know, one of the things that's most important in our country is the justice system. And although, you know, people can hate me and, do, and think I'm an odious type of a character, you know, awful actually," Raniere told journalist Frank Parlato. "Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system."

Raniere was the leader of NXIVM, a self-help organization exposed as a pyramid scheme and cult that subjected female recruits to sexual slavery. When asked if he intends to make a statement about his innocence during his Oct. 27 sentencing, he replied, "Yes."

"I am innocent," he claimed. "And although it is, this is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt, I think the main thrust of this has been the oppression but really a different issue, which is hard for me to express. There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I'm the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined."

However, Raniere did apologize for his participation "in all of this pain and suffering. I've clearly participated. I've been the leader of the community."

Last Sunday, during the finale of The Vow, the nine-part documentary about NXIVM, Raniere spoke via phone from Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center. 

“There are many ways of presenting a documentary. Your side is only the very top layer. And depending on what you’re willing to present as the truth, it can go very deep. So, talk to me,” Raniere said in the final moments of the episode. According to the series, the phone conversation took place in September 2020.

The second season of The Vow, which will debut in 2021, "will offer an exclusive view into Raniere's innermost circle. It delves into the stories of NXIVM’s top leadership in the U.S. and Mexico, and into powerful, intimate stories of DOS members," per HBO.

NXIVM was also the subject of the Starz four-part docuseries, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, as well as the Lifetime movie Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother's Fight to Save Her Daughter. The film was about Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg and her true story of losing her daughter, India, to the cult and her long fight to rescue her from the clutches of Raniere.

After escaping NXIVM in 2018, India told ET why she was finally ready to tell her story. 

“I needed time and I needed space to just take care of myself and process what I had just gone through in the past seven years of my life,” India said, revealing why she did not appear in the HBO series despite it documenting her mother's attempts to get her out of NXIVM. “I didn’t want to with The Vow and I did with Starz, and my mother was fine with that,” she shared, adding that she hasn’t watched any of The Vow. “She just knew how important it was for me to reclaim my voice and to tell my truth."

See more in the video below.