NXIVM founder Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday after first being convicted in 2019 on seven charges, including conspiracy, racketeering and sex trafficking. In 2017, the self-help organization he created was exposed as a Ponzi scheme and cult that forced many of its female recruits into sexual slavery, leading to his arrest as well as charges brought against other high-ranking members, including co-founder Nancy Salzman, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman and Smallville actress Allison Mack.
India Oxenberg, one of NXIVM’s former members subjected to years of coercion and abuse, was on hand to provide a victim-impact statement, previously telling ET that she hopes speaking out will help bring her closure. “You are a sexual predator, and you raped me,” she said, according to multiple reporters in the room. “When you touched me, I recoiled.”
She added, “You’re a liar and sadist for getting pleasure watching our skins burn. I may have to live the rest of my life with Keith Raniere’s initials on my skin.”
In addition to Oxenberg, former members Barbara Bouchey and Toni Natalie as well as several others also shared statements against Raniere, who has remained in custody at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center since being convicted. Meanwhile, whistleblowers -- former high-ranking member Mark Vicente and former top recruiter Sarah Edmondson -- addressed the court via video.
Prior to Tuesday’s sentencing, Oxenberg explained why she believed Raniere deserves life behind bars. “I feel like I would be able to rest knowing that he’s there because I don’t think that he’s someone who’s capable of repairing himself,” said the 29-year-old survivor, who also appeared in person to deliver a witness testimony and face her abuser in court.
Oxenberg escaped NXIVM in 2018, after seven years spent inside the organization. During that time, she claims that she was sexually assaulted, forced to lose weight and had to get branded with Raniere’s initials under DOS, the secret master-slave system created by him and Mack.
“I think he’s dangerous. And that if he was let out, he would do exactly the same thing because he’s doing it now from prison. And that’s so clear to me that that’s not a healed or recoverable person,” she added.
“The 120-year sentence imposed on Keith Raniere today is a measure of his appalling crimes committed over a decade,” Acting United States Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said in statement to the press. “Raniere exploited and abused his victims emotionally, physically and sexually for his personal gratification. It is my hope that today’s sentence brings closure to the victims and their families.”
“I am surrounded by exceptional women and men who all worked so hard to take this person down. My family, friends and I are incredibly validated by the verdict. Thank you to the judge and the justice system for exposing this, giving all of our lives back and making us feel safe again.” Oxenberg later said in a statement to ET.
“[You] saved my daughter India and countless others, I am forever grateful. [Thank you] for putting this predator behind bars,” Oxenberg’s mother, Catherine, tweeted in response to Raniere being ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
U saved my daughter India and countless others, I am forever grateful. TY for putting this predator behind bars https://t.co/3MBy7Kiebr
While silent following his conviction, Raniere and his followers have spoken out in recent weeks, claiming that he was a victim of an impartial judicial system.
“I am innocent,” Raniere asserted in an interview with NBC News. “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.”
Former Battlestar Galactica actress and Mack’s wife, Nicki Clyne, who also admits to being part of DOS, vocalized her continued support for Raniere in an interview with CBS This Morning. She and four other members, who have dubbed themselves the “NXIVM 5,” claimed that he is “a victim of prosecutorial misconduct” in a petition recently delivered to the court ahead of Tuesday’s sentencing.
According to Page Six, Clyne as well as Marc Elliott were among several people who appeared in court in support of Raniere on Tuesday.
In addition to speaking out to NBC News, Raniere also spoke to The Vow via phone from behind bars in a conversation that took place in September 2020. “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,” he said in the season 1 finale of the nine-part HBO docuseries.
Prior to Raniere’s sentencing, Bronfman was ordered to serve 81 months behind bars after pleading guilty to charges that she committed credit card fraud on behalf of Raniere and also harbored someone who was living in the U.S. illegally for unpaid labor and services.
Meanwhile, Salzman and Mack, who both pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, are awaiting sentencing. Both of their hearings have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and are not currently scheduled. According to several reports, Mack could face anywhere from 20 to 40 years in prison.