The clandestine branding ceremonies at a suburban city in upstate New York had been supposed to depart scars that served as everlasting pledges of loyalty to Keith Raniere, the chief of the cultlike group Nxivm.
Women who joined a secretive sect inside Nxivm referred to as the Vow, or D.O.S., had been held down on a desk as they recited the phrases “Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.” Then, one other member of the sect would cauterize Mr. Raniere’s initials into their pores and skin.
But some girls might now have the ability to get rid of these scars. At a federal restitution listening to on Tuesday, a decide ordered Mr. Raniere, who was convicted in 2019 of offenses together with intercourse trafficking and racketeering, to pay a complete of greater than $three.four million to 21 victims, with some of that cash allotted to girls to have brandings eliminated.
Mr. Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in jail after his 2019 conviction.Credit…Keith Raniere Conversations, by way of YouTube
“Virtually all low-ranking members of D.O.S. were victims of a conspiracy” involving pressured labor, the decide, Nicholas G. Garaufis, of Federal Court in Brooklyn, stated on Tuesday, including that D.O.S. members had been additionally directed to carry out sexual acts by “higher-ranking members.”
Mr. Raniere was not current within the courtroom however attended by video from Arizona, the place he’s serving a 120-year jail sentence.
The generally contentious continuing on Tuesday resolved a course of that had primarily been hidden from public view. A sequence of letters to the courtroom associated to restitution have been filed below seal, half of an effort to shield the privateness of the victims, together with some who grew to become half of D.O.S. — an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly interprets to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions.”
D.O.S. members, often called “slaves,” had been required to present to “masters” delicate or embarrassing private materials referred to as “collateral,” in accordance to courtroom paperwork and testimony within the case. That materials was then used to coerce compliance with orders, together with some to “seduce” Mr. Raniere.
About 100 individuals had submitted requests for restitution totaling about $33 million, Judge Garaufis stated. They included D.O.S. members, a enterprise advisor who labored with Nxivm and members of a household who had fought a virtually 15-year courtroom battle with Nxivm.
At one level prosecutors had advisable that the courtroom award restitution to 25 individuals.
Judge Garaufis decided that 17 individuals deserved restitution below the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which applies to crimes together with pressured labor, intercourse trafficking and doc servitude. Those victims are entitled to restitution for authorized counsel they retained in reference to the federal government investigation and Mr. Raniere’s felony proceedings, the worth of unpaid labor they carried out inside D.O.S., and medical companies, together with psychological well being care and model removing.
Another 4 persons are entitled to restitution below a second regulation, the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996, which applies to crimes together with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.
Among these to whom Mr. Raniere is being ordered to pay restitution is Sarah Edmondson, one of the primary individuals to communicate publicly concerning the brandings. In 2017 she informed The New York Times that she wept as she endured that have and “disassociated out of my body.”
Other recipients embody a lady recognized solely as Sylvie, who testified throughout Mr. Raniere’s trial that she was ordered to have intercourse with him and described life inside D.O.S. as “lies and deceit and darkness,” and a lady recognized as Daniela, who testified that Mr. Raniere grew to become jealous when she rejected him and prompted her to be stored in a room for 2 years.
The largest restitution quantity, $507,997, was awarded to Daniela’s youthful sister, Camila. Mr. Raniere started sexually abusing Camila when she was 15, in accordance to courtroom data. Judge Garaufis stated on Tuesday that there was data that “the defendant induced her to submit to pornographic photography sessions.”
Judge Garaufis additionally stated lower-ranking D.O.S. members “are statutorily entitled to the return of their collateral” and directed Mr. Raniere to help in that effort. But that order was stayed till Mr. Raniere’s enchantment of his conviction is exhausted.
While restitution instances with a single sufferer and perpetrator — and one clear-cut crime — may be easy, Mr. Raniere’s case appeared to be significantly advanced, stated Paul G. Cassell, a former federal decide in Utah and professor on the S.J. Quinney College of Law on the University of Utah, who has written about crime victims and restitution.
“Here we have both issues of who is a victim, and once that’s sorted through, what are the compensable losses,” Professor Cassell stated. “Given the breadth of the charges and the number of people involved, this is one of the most complicated restitution cases I think I have ever seen.”
The restitution course of might be additional difficult by the truth that Mr. Raniere has lengthy offered himself to the world as a “renunciate” who shunned materials possessions, and he might not have the means to pay no matter he’s ordered to hand over.
In a memorandum to the courtroom earlier than Mr. Raniere’s sentencing, prosecutors wrote that he had reported an curiosity within the $eight million property of a deceased former associate and informed probation authorities that he additionally had earnings from Nxivm and from one other group he based referred to as Executive Success Programs.
Prosecutors additionally wrote within the memo that they might ask that “forfeited funds” be used for restitution.
Throughout the continuing Mr. Raniere was seen on a display, sporting a dark-colored shirt and taking notes on a authorized pad. At one level, after Judge Garaufis requested if he had any remark, Mr. Raniere declared that he had no connection to the non-public supplies offered by D.O.S. members.
“I have never handled the collateral,” he stated. “I know nothing about it.”