"He should remain in prison for the rest of his life."
April 13, 2018 5:20 PM   Subscribe

For years, the personal development and multi-level marketing company NXIVM was rumored to be a cult (previously) led by a man named Keith Raniere. Last year, after NYT broke a story on female NXIVM members being branded (previously), federal officials began investigating. Today, Raniere appeared in a NY court to face charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor.
posted by rcraniac (25 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was in a cult in the 70s: Divine Light Mission (brought to us by Guru Maharaj Ji, the teenaged guru). Luckily, I got out after just a few years. Still embarrassed....but you had to be there. I always thought that "Hey, it was the 70s!" was a good excuse. But...still? And branded? Cults have always existed, and are often dissimilar to religions only in their numbers and longevity. I am constantly amazed that weird cults sprout up like mushrooms.
posted by kozad at 5:37 PM on April 13 [13 favorites]


Former Smallville actress Allison Mack is high up in the hierarchy and may now be in charge of the organization. Former co-star Kristin Kreuk was a member for several years, but has denied being a member of the inner circle.
posted by mogget at 6:09 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


I’m surprised this isn’t a MUCH bigger story, especially here in Canada. A lot of this was happening in Vancouver (that’s where Mack, Kreuk, and others were recruited), and the whole thing was funded with Bronfman money. But it’s getting the lightest dusting of coverage, if any.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:16 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


"Authorities also say Raniere has been bankrolled by Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram's liquor fortune. Bronfman has allegedly given Raniere and NXIVM more than $100 million to cover expenses like private air travel."

The investor class is uniquely qualified to oversee the efficient allocation of capital you guys which is why inheritance taxes are bargle argle bargle thbpt.
posted by xthlc at 8:03 PM on April 13 [103 favorites]


Rolling Stone: (CW: descriptions of blackmail and abuse; images of branding)
According to the complaint, the women must remain sexually faithful to Raniere and are not permitted to discuss their relationships with him. The document also states that NXIVM's course teachings advocate that men must have "multiple sexual partners" while women must be monogamous, and that DOS strives to help women overcome their "inherent weaknesses" and "overemotional natures."
And there it is. Underneath the bankroll and a light dusting of charisma, it's the same old narcissistic abusive misogyny
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 8:10 PM on April 13 [75 favorites]


Shoutout to the Albany Times Union, which has been reporting tirelessly on the NXIVM beat for years before things recently blew up. They reported six years ago on Raniere (allegedly) molesting underage girls.
posted by retrograde at 9:56 PM on April 13 [25 favorites]


I love the story of how that captured him in Mexico and then the authorities were chased by a band of his lady followers...can't make this stuff up.
posted by Toddles at 11:02 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


the whole thing was funded with Bronfman money

I don't know how one can tarnish the legacy of a bootlegger and make me feel sympathy for what I suspect was a deeply unpleasant person, but apparently that's the one thing Sam Bronfman's descendants are good at.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:46 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


What's immediately striking about the NYT article from the earlier post is how quick all the authorities contacted by victims were to dismiss what was happening. "Sounds like it was consensual, sorry, not gonna do anything." "She wasn't acting as your doctor at the time, sorry, not gonna do anything." "Doesn't meet our definition of medical misconduct, sorry, not gonna do anything."
posted by clawsoon at 4:37 AM on April 14 [15 favorites]


Former Smallville actress Allison Mack is high up in the hierarchy and may now be in charge of the organization. Former co-star Kristin Kreuk was a member for several years, but has denied being a member of the inner circle.

Evil cult blackmailing and branding women? Sounds like a job for Superman.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:44 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


I love the story of how that captured him in Mexico and then the authorities were chased by a band of his lady followers...can't make this stuff up.

Given the context, I can’t say that I “love” any of this, but I will say that I find this bit strongly reminiscent of Robert de Grimston and the Process Church of the Final Judgement, familiar to all serious scholars of the Manson Family as one of the primary sources of Charlie’s worldview. (The other, of course, was Scientology, another abusive cult latterly fallen on hard times.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:24 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I don’t know how any of his followers manage anything - he has convinced his closest female followers to adhere to a 500-calorie daily diet and run many miles per week so they are skinny enough to be sexually attractive to him. The whole thing is so sick.
posted by 41swans at 7:29 AM on April 14 [8 favorites]


Raniere left the United States late last year after The New York Times reported the stories of women who left the group, and the government began interviewing potential witnesses.
Why is it that the authorities so often seem just... lazy... about investigating complaints until a journalist does the hard work of connecting stories and confirming facts?
posted by clawsoon at 7:45 AM on April 14 [8 favorites]


A CBC podcast uncover is doing a 6 part series on this

There is only a trailer so far. I plan to give this a listen
posted by devonia at 7:58 AM on April 14 [6 favorites]


Raniere left the United States late last year after The New York Times reported the stories of women who left the group, and the government began interviewing potential witnesses.
Why is it that the authorities so often seem just... lazy... about investigating complaints until a journalist does the hard work of connecting stories and confirming facts?
posted by clawsoon at 7:45 AM on April 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


I know that, for environmental crimes, there are far fewer government staff than necessary to methodically investigate the number of crimes happening every year. In Louisiana, this is well documented. There are 24 large oil spill cases that have been dragging out since 1990.

Combine that with the fact that government usually isn't the best at re-allocating resources to emerging problems, and government is slow.

so rest assured, investigators have dropped another case to respond to this. squeaky wheel and all that.
posted by eustatic at 8:19 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Shoutout to the Albany Times Union

Yeah, this has been a 'local news' story for years, going back to Consumer's Buyline days. and the T-U has exceeded expectations all the way.

FWIW, a long departed friend who was working on their computer system ( IIRC, Business Basic, which a shitload of serial terminals ) invited me up for a visit, and I had what is best described as an allergic reaction to the whole place.

My friend had identified their business model as a pyramid scheme from the very first meeting and chose to find another gig sooner rather than later.
posted by mikelieman at 8:31 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I wonder if the 500 calorie diet also functions to keep people confused and more likely to believe in insane shit like this fucking cult. I hope he is imprisoned forever.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on April 14 [16 favorites]


I wonder if the 500 calorie diet also functions to keep people confused and more likely to believe in insane shit like this fucking cult.

I learned from another board discussing this case that this is apparently an extremely common tactic for that exact result. Super awesome and totally cool. People are great.

I hope he is imprisoned forever.

same
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:12 AM on April 14 [12 favorites]


Sleep deprivation is almost universal in cults for the same reason.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:01 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


I will say that I find this bit strongly reminiscent of Robert de Grimston and the Process Church of the Final Judgement, familiar to all serious scholars of the Manson Family as one of the primary sources of Charlie’s worldview.

The Process Church also had some influence on Funkadelic in the 1970s.
posted by jonp72 at 1:14 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Only last week a party in Williamsburg was held to recruit members.
One partygoer said the bash had started off fine — there had been no sign of sex, slaves or scalding irons — but things turned weird when the opening wine-and-cheese reception turned into a presentation pitch for the Source. The pitch sent some giggling guests inching toward the door, while others seemed to take it seriously. Of the friend who invited her to the soiree, the partygoer added, “She’s a nice girl, but now I’m kind of mad at her for trying to induct me into her sex cult.”
posted by maggiemaggie at 2:43 PM on April 14 [7 favorites]


Is it too much to ask for a sex cult that isn't a shitty abusive pyramid scheme?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:27 PM on April 14 [20 favorites]


reposting from the other thread

Every now and then I really think we shouldn't allow people to spend their own money. If rich people have so much money that they can just throw it away on cults, politics, yachts and solid gold toilets, then they have too much money and they need to give it away to needy people for survival. If regular folks spend too much of their money on cults, pyramid schemes, time-shares, then they need to be saved from themselves because pretty soon they are a burden to society and will need welfare, social services, etc.. We all foot that bill. It's not fair for hucksterism (and wow could that be a broadly cast net?!) to tax the frayed social safety net protected by our values of the "free market."
posted by amanda at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2017 [8 favorites −] [!]
posted by eustatic at 11:33 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Is it too much to ask for a sex cult that isn't a shitty abusive pyramid scheme?

Isn't that just, like, a recurring sex party?
posted by atoxyl at 12:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Is it too much to ask for a sex cult that isn't a shitty abusive pyramid scheme?

Like, say, Kerista? Although they were pretty heavily involved in selling Macs...
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 AM on April 16


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