Allison Mack's alleged sex cult made up of 'strong-minded, free-willed women', lawyer claims

Smallville actress Allison Mack has appeared in federal court, charged with coercing women who joined an organisation known as NXIVM into becoming sex slaves.

She appeared alongside Keith Raniere, the leader of the group.

Some of the women were branded with a symbol that prosecutors said contained Raniere's initials.

Mack and Raniere have pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking. They have denied wrongdoing.

The court appearance Friday is one of several the pair will have before trial.

Raniere has been held without bail. His lawyer Marc Agnifilo said the group was "something that people joined, women joined of their own volition, for their own reasons, and as part of what they felt they wanted to sort of accomplish in life".

"I don't think you're going to find any credible evidence that anybody was brought into this group against their will, that anybody was kept in this group against their will. I think what you're going to see is that a lot of adult, strong-minded, free-willed women made decisions for their own lives and made their own choices and that's what the evidence is going to show soundly."

Mack was freed after a court appearance last month. Arrangements are being made for her to be on house arrest in California.

"There are well-known groups of men that brand themselves. It's utterly uncontroversial," said Mr Agnifilo. "But a group of women decide the brand themselves and then all of a sudden we assume that they're victims."

Assistant US attorney Moira Penza told the judge the government plans to file a new indictment naming more defendants, but he didn't go into specifics.

APTN / Newshub.