When you think of sex trafficking, you probably think of an evil, international cartel forcing women into prostitution. You probably don’t think of Hollywood actresses and millionaire heiresses recruiting women into a cult, but that’s what recently happened in the NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”) group. While many news outlets have provided extensive coverage of the Hollywood sex trafficking cult, those interested in learning more from a legal perspective won’t want to miss this version of events by lawyer Peter M. Liss.
The Key Players
What makes this story so fascinating to so many people is that it doesn’t just involve a shadowy sex trafficking cult in Hollywood, but that it also involves the rich and famous as well. In fact, most people hadn’t even heard about the case until Smallville actress Allison Mack was arrested for sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy. She has been accused of recruiting women into a supposed female mentorship program where they were then coerced into performing sex and labor as slaves for the benefit of the cult leaders. She is said to have even branded women with a cauterizing pen.
Mack is said to have been the second-in-command behind cult leader Keith Raniere, who has been charged with the same crimes as well as child sex trafficking, identity theft, extortion, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Other cult leaders arrested include co-founder Nancy Salzman, her daughter, Lauren Salzman, and bookkeeper Kathy Russell.
The other surprise in the case was the arrest of Clare Bronfman, the daughter and heiress to the Canadian billionaire that owns Seagram’s brand liquors. Bronfman served as the organization’s director of operations and is being accused of being one of the group’s largest financial backers as well as another recruiter for the group. Bronfman claims she was entirely unaware of the group’s use of women as sex slaves.
Possible Penalties for the Crimes
With each person involved facing a massive list of federal charges, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen to each individual, especially considering that one person might receive a lighter sentence in exchange for providing crucial testimonies against the others. Sex crimes attorneys are speculating that Raniere could spend the rest of his life behind bars if he is found guilty of all of the charges and that he and Mack will most likely be sentenced to at least 15 years if found guilty.
As for the others, it is harder to say. Prosecutors haven’t brought up nearly as many charges against Bronfan, but she is said to have become the stand-in leader for the group after Raniere and Mack were arrested. While she may, in fact, have broken many laws in her role in NXIVM, it so far seems that the prosecution doesn’t have as much evidence against her as it does against the others. Bronfan seems to be a steadfast supporter of Raniere and is unlikely to turn on him, but a top attorney could beat her charges altogether if there is insufficient evidence to prove she knew of the group’s sex trafficking or other crimes. Only time will tell whether she goes down with the rest of the cult’s leaders.
Fighting Sex Crime Charges
If you have been accused of any similar charges, ranging from sex trafficking and child rape to fraud and money laundering, Peter Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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