Former 'slave' of alleged sex cult NXIVM testifies in New York

A former member of the alleged sex cult NXIVM testified about her day-to-day experiences as a "slave" on Wednesday (local time).

NXIVM, a New York marketing company, made headlines last year for its alleged "sex cult" which brainwashed women into sexual slavery. 

The trial for its 58-year-old founder, Keith Raniere, began on Tuesday. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including sex trafficking, forced labour, extortion, and racketeering conspiracy. Smallville actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty to a range of similar charges earlier this year.

Actress Allison Mack leaving trial over alleged NY sex cult
Actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and racketeering last month. Photo credit: AAP Photos/Justin Lane

The witness, identified as Sylvie, told the court she was recruited by a "master," coerced into oral sex with Raniere, and barely escaped being branded with the founder's initials, the New York Times reports.

Raniere founded NXIVM as a self-help organisation in 1998, offering workshops and seminars on achieving life fulfilment. Sixteen-thousand people reportedly participated in NXIVM programmes.

Prosecutors say the organisation was used by Raniere to exert power over his followers. DOS, a fraudulent sorority, became a platform to allegedly recruit slaves.

The "masters" allegedly coerced women into supplying embarrassing personal material, used as a form of "collateral" to extort them into devoted service.

Sylvie said after joining DOS her "master", Monica Duran, instructed her to have her picture taken by Raniere and to comply with whatever else he wanted, the Times reported.

Sylvie said Raniere coerced her into sexual relations as a form of initiation, then took a photo of her genitals and declared her a part of the inner circle.

Over the next two years Sylvie says she recruited more slaves, obtained their collateral and ran Duran's personal errands. A 'dog collar' necklace symbolised her relationship to Duran.

Four other co-defendants, including heiress and high-ranking NXIVM member Clare Bronfman, have pleaded guilty.


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