More than a dozen victims in the courtroom gave wrenching testimony about how he manipulated and sexually abused them.
NEW YORK (CNN) – US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis read the sentence in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday after more than a dozen people gave victim impact statements at his sentencing. Garaufis said in his decision that the crimes Raniere was convicted of being “cruel, perverse, and extremely serious.”
Raniere, 60, was convicted in 2019 by a jury in Brooklyn federal court of counts, including racketeering, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, and human trafficking.
“Keith Raniere will not be able to victimize people anymore after today’s sentence, and we’re very grateful for that,” said Acting US Attorney for Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme. “It struck me in listening to the victims that Raniere twisted people’s trust and their need to find some meaning and hope in their lives in just the most insidious and devious ways.”
Fifteen of Raniere’s victims either spoke or had statements read at his sentencing in Brooklyn federal court. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office of Eastern New York, said.
One of those victims was the 15-year-old girl at the center of the sexual exploitation of a child charge Raniere was convicted of. A redacted copy of her victim impact statement was posted to the court record, in which she said she was 15 and he was 45 when they began to have sex and that he took nude photos of her.
“While he hid our sexual relationship from others, he explained it to me by telling me that I was very mature for my age. And I know now that it was false — I was a child,” her victim impact statement read. “He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me — not just sexually but also psychologically.”
She detailed how she met Raniere at the age of 13 and how he groomed her by asking her sexually explicit questions, “escalating in detail over time.”
“He told me to keep it all a secret, immediately severing me from my family and friends and effectively making himself my only resource,” her statement said.
She said that when she was older and tried to distance herself from him, he punished her “emotionally, psychologically, and sexually.”
She said she could leave Raniere and the Nxivm community in 2017, thanks to her sister, Daniela, who testified against Raniere at his trial.
“As I write this statement, the gravity of what he did to me becomes more and more clear. He hid his abuse behind ideas and concepts of nobility,” her statement said. “He demanded loyalty but was loyal to no one but himself. He left me weak, confused, and completely unprepared for life outside of his control.”
The girl was part of a group called DOS. What prosecutors said was a secretive group of women who would become “slaves” once they joined the group and who feared leaving because their “masters” had compromising information about them.
Also, in Raniere’s corner is “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicki Clyne, who participated in part of the alleged Nxivm scheme and has not been charged with a crime. She did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
India Oxenberg, who was also a “DOS slave” wrote in her victim impact statement that she was “instructed” to seduce Raniere and was branded with Raniere’s initials, unbeknownst to her. Raniere was not charged in connection with her allegations. “I was branded with a cauterizing pen,” Oxenberg’s statement said. “This excruciating procedure lasted for over 30 minutes and took months to heal. I may have to live the rest of my life with Keith Raniere’s initials seared to my flesh. I am not sure how I will ever be able to put this behind me fully.”
Prosecutors say Raniere is ‘unrepentant’
Since his conviction, Raniere has remained “unrepentant” with “no empathy for his victims,” wrote prosecutors who described Raniere as the leader of a criminal enterprise who recruited people at Nxivm to exploit them “for power, for-profit, or for sex.”
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