In 2019, Keith Raniere was convicted on seven counts, including sex trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy charges, after NXIVM, the self-help organization he founded, was exposed as a Ponzi scheme and cult that forced many female recruits into sexual slavery. One of its former members subjected to years of coercion and abuse, India Oxenberg, explains to ET why she believes Raniere deserves life behind bars when he’s formally sentenced on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
“I want him to have life in prison,” the 29-year-old survivor says. “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. I think he’s dangerous. And 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.”
Oxenberg escaped NXIVM in 2018, after seven years spent inside the organization and under Raniere’s influence. During that time she claims that she was sexually assaulted, forced to lose weight and had to get branded with the founder’s initials under DOS, the secret master-slave system created by him and Smallville actress Allison Mack. “I had to do planks, ice-cold showers, stand in the snow at 3 a.m.,” she revealed in the harrowing docuseries, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, adding at one point that Raniere said she “had to be 106 pounds.”
“I went into NXIVM looking for a more purposeful life, and I thought that these people wanted that too. But then I went through something that I don’t wish upon anybody, ” Oxenberg also said in the series, which is now airing on Starz, before adding, “It’s taken me over 50 hours of working with a therapist to even be able to say the words that something sexual did happen between Keith and I.”
Since being convicted, Raniere has remained in custody at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center. However, in recent weeks, he and his followers have spoken out, claiming that he is a victim of an impartial judicial system.
“I am innocent,” Raniere claimed in an interview with Dateline and 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 also asserted that he is “a victim of prosecutorial misconduct” in a petition recently delivered to the court ahead of his sentencing.
Oxenberg says that despite his claims, he would be a risk to her and others if he was let out. “He has a certain type of pathology and it’s not OK for those types of people to run rampant,” she says, adding that she feels “heartbroken” over those who are speaking out in defense of Raniere. “They’re still being used by Keith. Everything that they’re doing benefits him, not them. And they don’t see it that way because they’re not willing to accept the truth.”
To help ensure that Raniere gets the maximum sentencing, Oxenberg plans to be in court, where she’ll provide witness testimony about the trauma she’s experienced and face her abuser one final time. “I’m going to speak there. I have a statement written,” she says. “I just need that closure.”