Keith Raniere, the leader of the alleged self-empowerment sex cult NXIVM, is already facing a wide range of criminal charges, from sex trafficking to forced labor conspiracy. Now, he’s facing an entirely new charge: possession of child pornography.
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors brought the new charges against Raniere, claiming that they had evidence he had engaged in a relationship with a 15-year-old girl. The 15-year-olds had sent images to Raniere “constituting child pornography.” The prosecutors also said they had “electronic communications between the victim and Raniere reflecting their sexual relationship and indicating that it began when she was fifteen years old.”
Prosecutors also allege that Raniere was in a relationship with another 15-year-old girl, and that they have evidence that Raniere’s reported second-in-command, Smallville actress Allison Mack, and Seagram’s heiress Claire Bronfman both knew about it.
The charges came shortly after Nancy Salzman, NXIVM’s cofounder who is also known as “Prefect,” pled guilty to conspiracy charges on Wednesday.
As the head of NXIVM, Raniere is accused of having a ring of “sex slaves” who were forced to perform manual labor and adopt extremely restrictive diets to adhere to Raniere’s standards of physical attractiveness. The women were also reportedly branded with Raniere’s initials and those of Mack. According to federal prosecutors, Raniere and Mack allegedly kept collateral on the women in NXIVM to blackmail them and convince them to stay in the sorority.
Raniere faces 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted. His trial is due to begin in late April.