Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years

[Image credit: Elizabeth Williams- Associated Press]

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“I am deeply sorry and I see that where I am is caused by me I am deeply remorseful and repentant,” Keith Raniere said during his sentencing hearing today. “It is true I am not remorseful over the crimes I do not believe I have committed at all. But I am deeply remorseful of all this pain.”

 

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis sentenced Rainere to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking and fraud as well as a $1.75 million fine, describing his crimes as "cruel, perverse, and extremely serious."

 

The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York took to Twitter to announce the sentence.  Prosecutors had requested a life sentence while the defense had argued in favor of a 15-year-sentence for their client.

 

When Rainere was convicted in June 2019, then-US Attorney Richard Donohue described him as someone that "portrayed himself as a savant and a genius," but was in reality nothing more than "a massive manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization involving sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion-compelled abortions, branding, degradation and humiliation."

 

During the hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court, 15 former members of NXIVM were given time to speak, recounting their abuses.

 

One of the victims, Camila, stated "there is nothing noble about abusing a child,” after stating that the abuse was hid behind a screen of "value and nobility."  She stated that she had a sexual relationship with Rainere that spanned 12 years and had begun when she was just 15-years-old.  Confronting him during the sentencing hearing was her way to get her voice back after years spent “coming to terms with the trauma and abuse.”

 

“He manipulated me for what he wanted,” Camila said. “I became unreachable to my parents, my brother, my friends until I had nobody to worry about me. He knew the things that mattered most to me and what I feared and used that against me.”

 

One of the original whistle-blowers against the cult, Sarah Edmondson, called Rainere a “liar, parasite, and a grifter,” that manipulated those seeking personal growth.  “In a curriculum that focused on personal growth—you have taken none.”

 

Catherine Oxenberg said that Raniere “stole seven years of her life” and abused her.  “You’re a liar and sadist for getting pleasure watching our skins burn,” she said.  In requesting that the judge give Raniere a "permanent sentence" for the permanent effects his abuse has had on his victims, Oxenberg stated, “I will be the victim of Keith Raniere’s for the rest of my life—but I don’t need to act like one.”

 

Oxenberg's daughter India called Raneire an "entitled little princess" and sexual predator while saying that she "may have to spend the rest of my life with Keith Raneire's initials seared into me."

 

Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram's fortune, was sentenced by the same judge at the end of September to 81 months in prison, a fine of $500,000 and an order for $96,605 in restitution to be paid to one of the victims.  Prosecutors had sought a 60-month prison sentence for her involvement.

 

“I’m immensely grateful and privileged that people all over the world are praying for me because they know my goodness,” Bronfman said just before she was sentenced.

 

“Ms. Bronfman’s crimes were not committed in a vacuum,” Garaufis said. “They were committed in connection with her role in NXVIM and her close relationship with Raniere, and I believe that it would be inappropriate for me to consider them divorced from that context.”

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