Keith Raniere, founder of NXIVM, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday.
US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis stated that the sentencing was greatly impacted by the notion that the charges against Raniere were crimes of “cruel, perverse and extremely serious” nature. Furthermore, fifteen people provided victim impact statements at the sentencing in Brooklyn federal court.
“Despite everything that has happened and despite the countless victims who have given voice to their great pain, Mr. Raniere remains unmoved. Indeed, he maintains his innocence,” Garaufis remarked. “To him, the brave victims who have spoken out about the abuse suffered at his hands — including those who spoke today — are liars.”
Former members of “Dominus Obsequious Sororium” (DOS), the master-slave sex group created by Raniere, gathered outside of the federal courthouse on Tuesday in an effort to defend their membership to the organization. Former “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicki Clyne, who was Raniere’s “partner” for 10 years, asserted that the NXIVM leader did not create DOS to prey on women. “We’re here together and we are proud of our choices,” Clyne stated.
Dr. Danielle Roberts, whose role within DOS was to brand women as a means of indoctrinating them into the secret society, said that the group’s practices were “extremely misunderstood.” Michele Hatchette, another ex-DOS member, added that, “there’s a difference between getting a brand and being branded.”
In response to Raniere’s sentencing, the women are planning to create a platform that will allow them to tell their side of the story. According to Clyne, a site called the “DOSsier Project” is in the process of being launched to the public. Clyne assures that the site will provide details on DOS’ “concepts and ideas” as well as offer answers as to “why [the women] experience it as a force for good.”
Raniere was charged with sex trafficking, sexual coercion and racketeering in June 2019. Despite ex-DOS members’ claims that all sexual relations were consensual, Judge Garaufis stood by his decision to have the 60-year-old spend the remainder of his life in prison. Garaufis also ordered the cult leader to pay a $1.75 million fine.
In addition to Raniere, five women who had been a part of the NXIVM leadership have pleaded guilty to crimes related to DOS. Among them is Clare Bronfman, who is an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune and was an important financial contributor to the organization. Bronfman was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in September and her attorneys are in the process of filing an appeal.
Overall, Raniere’s sentencing signals the beginning of a new chapter of healing and regrowth for many of his victims. Catherine Oxenberg, the mother of former DOS member India Oxenberg, views the sentence as “a victory on so many levels.” “My faith in the justice system is renewed,” she added. “Keith can no longer use his power, privilege and access to unlimited wealth to silence and abuse his victims … The world is a safer place with Keith Raniere behind bars for the next 120 years.”