Since last year, Rolling Stone has been tracking the bizarre story of NXIVM, a secretive alleged sex cult founded by multi-level marketing guru Keith Raniere in Albany, New York. This investigative podcast from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation looks at the case from the inside perspective of actor Sarah Edmondson, a high-ranking NXIVM member who alleged to the New York Times that she was branded as part of the group’s side sect, DOS.
A twist that lends the podcast a noteworthy touch: Escaping NXIVM is reported by Josh Bloch, a producer and childhood friend of Edmondson’s. Bloch touches on his own dismay at seeing his friend’s life unravel under the influence of Raniere.
Edmondson rose within the group’s ranks for more than a decade, finally deciding to flee the group and blow the whistle on what she experienced there. The publication of 2017’s blockbuster New York Times story — which alleged that women in DOS were forcibly branded, held as slaves and compelled to recruit additional slaves for their “masters” — helped set the group’s downfall in motion.
Raniere is currently awaiting trial in Brooklyn after pleading not guilty to sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, attempted sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit identity theft.
Also charged, among others, were Hollywood actress Allison Mack (“Smallville”) and Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman. Mack has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Bronfman’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, denied the charges of money laundering and identity theft against her client.