NXIVM leader Keith Raniere to Face “Sex Slavery” and “Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking of Children by Force” Charges in Brooklyn
Toni Natalie speaks about her experience when introduced to Keith Raniere, the founder of the alleged cult NXIVM. Video by Carlos Ortiz. Carlos Ortiz
ALBANY – Keith Raniere, the co-founder of secretive Albany-area self-help group NXIVM, will remain in custody as he’s transported to Brooklyn to face charges that he led a secret society that used woman as sex slaves and branded them with a logo bearing his initials.
Raniere, who was known as “The Vanguard” by followers of the cult-like group, was arrested Monday in Mexico and charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy.
He did not make an argument for bail Tuesday during an initial court appearance in Fort Worth, Texas, clearing the way for him to be transported to Brooklyn to face bail and preliminary hearings, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Eastern District.
Raniere will be “removed to the Eastern District of New York in the custody of the United States Marshal Service,” John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.
Masters and slaves
Prosecutors have accused Raniere of leading “DOS”, a secret group in which women who joined were known as “masters” and “slaves.”
The women were recruited to the group under the guise of it being a mentoring group.
But in actuality, the women were treated as slaves and in some cases used as sex slaves by Raniere, according to the FBI.
To join the group, they were required to strip naked before they were branded on their pubic area and had to give up collateral — such as naked photos or damaging confessions — to ensure they wouldn’t defect.
Raniere was found Monday in a luxury villa outside Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after fleeing the country following a New York Times report in October on the branding.
When he was taken away in custody by Mexican officials, a group of women followed behind in a car being driven at high speeds, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors are trying to block Raniere, who grew up in Suffern, Rockland County, from getting bail, arguing that he’s a risk to flee because of his past actions and his access to the vast resources of Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune who is a longtime follower of Raniere.
They also pointed to Raniere’s history of sexual deviance and manipulation of women, carrying between 15 and 20 sexual partners and having been accused of having sex with underage women.
“The defendant, who was living in Mexico prior to his arrest and has access to vast resources, poses a significant risk of flight,” court papers said Tuesday.
“In addition, his long-standing history of systematically exploiting women through coercive practices for his own financial and sexual benefit demonstrates that, if released, he would pose a danger to the community.”
Remains in detention
Brian Poe, a Fort Worth-based attorney who represented Raniere at his hearing Tuesday, said Raniere would have his next court proceedings in Brooklyn. A court date has not yet been set.
Poe said he was retained by Raniere only for his Texas hearing on Tuesday, not for the rest of the proceedings.
“Mr. Raniere waived the identity hearing and elected to have his preliminary and detention hearing in the Eastern District of New York, so the court ordered that he be transferred to New York for further proceedings,” Poe wrote in an email.
Toni Natalie, a Rochester-area woman who dated Raniere in the 1990s, said seeing the news of Raniere’s arrest Monday was “surreal.”
Natalie has spoken out against Raniere and NXIVMfor nearly 20 years, warning of his manipulative techniques and assisting women who defected from the group.
Raniere has tied Natalie up with lawsuits and court proceedings since they broke up in 1999.
“To hear the relief from these women — for all of us, it’s really over,” Natalie said Tuesday.
“Every five or six years, a group of women comes out and I sit down with them and support them any way I can. And every time, he walks away. He’s not walking away this time.”
NXIVM participants would allegedly sign up for a weeklong course that could cost $5,000. When they couldn’t pay, they “remained obliged to NXIVM,” according to the allegations in a federal complaint unsealed Monday.
“Ranierie has maintained a rotating group of 15 to 20 women with whom he maintains sexual relationships,” the criminal complaint states.
On NXIVM’s website last year, Raniere had claimed DOS, the secret society, was not associated with the group, which has been active since 1999.
But a Yahoo! email account subpoenaed by federal investigators included emails showing a pyramid diagram showing the slave masters ultimately reported to Raniere and that he conceived of the group.
“As alleged in the complaint, Keith Raniere created a secret society of women whom he had sex with and branded with his initials, coercing them with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
In the Albany area, there were media reports Tuesday of raids at homes associated with NXIVM.
Raniere did not respond to emails seeking comment Monday, and it remains unclear whether he has retained an attorney to represent him in New York.
Catherine Oxenberg, the Dynasty actress whose daughter remains involved in NXIVM, issued a statement Monday saying she wants to “help all the young women affected by this cult.”
Oxenberg has been out of touch with her daughter in recent months and had raised concerns about her well-being.
“They are the victims of human trafficking — which is slavery,” she said in the statement.
“For months, I have worked to expose Keith Raniere and NXIVM, and today’s arrest vindicates my efforts. I want my daughter to know I love her and that I want her back in my life.”
Trump Says Democrats Are Responsible for a ‘MASSIVE CHILD SMUGGLING INDUSTRY’ #PIZZAGATE #PEDOGATE
The president says that ‘traffickers are making a fortune’ and its all thanks to loopholes he says are the fault of Democrats that exist in the immigration system.
‘It’s a whole big con job,’ the president charged in a Cabinet meeting. ‘They’ve let it happen.’
Even before he took office, Trump noted that coyotes were helping floods of unaccompanied minors illegally cross the border.
Because of laws requiring the U.S. to release minors from Central America after 20 days, Trump fumed, ‘You might as well save your time. Don’t bother catching them.’
Trump said that as a result of the United States’ backward immigration laws, ‘The whole world is laughing at the United States, and they have been for years.’
President Trump had initially planned to have his Cabinet meeting behind closed doors. He opted to open it up at the last minute to reporters.
Making use the bully pulpit, Trump said his administration is ‘working swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the southern border’ and close ‘loopholes in our immigration laws supported by extremists open-border Democrats.’
‘That’s what they are,’ the president asserted. ‘They’re extremists open-border Democrats. If you look at Nancy Pelosi and you look at Chuck Schumer, you’ll see tape where they wanted to have borders, they needed borders for security.’
The president added, ‘People are suffering because of the Democrats. So we’ve created, and they’ve created, and they let it happen, a massive child smuggling industry. It’s exactly what it’s become.
‘Traffickers, if you think about this, human traffickers are making a fortune. It’s a disgrace. These loopholes force the release of alien families and minors into the country when they illegally cross the border.’
Trump said that Democrats are being told by Schumer and Pelosi not to help Republicans with illegal immigration, because they want to pick up seats in the Mid-term elections.
‘They don’t care about the children, they don’t care about the injury, they don’t care about the problems, they don’t care about anything. All they do is they obstruct…because they have no policies that are any good,’ he charged. ‘They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing and they generally stick together.’
The president said he respects Democrats’ pack mentality – ‘and that’s about it’ – because on the whole ‘their policies stink’ and they’re likely to lose in November at the ballot box.
‘They have no ideas. They have no nothing, the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct and stay together and vote against and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration,’ he contended.
Trump said that the family separation is just a ‘small’ aspect of the changes that need to be made to the U.S. immigration system.
‘We should be able to do a bill,’ he said, just as House Republicans yanked two pieces of legislation dealing with immigration ahead of a scheduled vote.
‘I’d invite them to come over to the White House any time they want, this afternoon would be good, after the Cabinet meeting would be good,’ he said. ‘They are invited, officially, I’ll let you do the inviting, let the press do inviting.’
Trump was supposed to host Democrats on Thursday in the evening at the congressional picnic that presidents put on every summer for Members of Congress and their families. He postponed the event yesterday because it did not ‘feel right’ with so many issues left unaddressed.
The president made clear both on Twitter and in meetings at the White House that aired on national television that he is not backing down from his immigration battle with Democrats in spite of a carve-out for children and families that he dictated yesterday, under pressure, through an executive order.
Trump assailed the Democratic position in Thursday tweets that a greater number of judges are needed to cut down on indefinite detention of undocumented immigrants at the border.
‘We shouldn’t be hiring judges by the thousands, as our ridiculous immigration laws demand, we should be changing our laws, building the Wall, hire Border Agents and ICE and not let people come into our country based on the legal phrase they are told to say as their password,’ he said.
He also put pressure on Democrats to get behind the two immigration bills that Republicans planned to put forward for a vote in the House today.
Both bills would give him the funding he requested for his border wall and move to a merit-based immigration system. The more more moderate of the two would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
The compromise bill would also codify an executive action that Trump took Wednesday to prevent children and families from being separated.
Trump needled Republicans in the Senate to get rid of the age-old filibuster on Thursday, as well, to give the immigration bills that faced an uncertain future in the House a better chance of succeeding.
‘What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms),’ he asked. ‘Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!’
‘What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms),’
Republicans hold a razor-thin margin of 51 seats in the U.S. Senate and would need the support of nine Democrats, as Trump indicated, to pass immigration legislation.
That’s assuming that every Republican member voted in lock-step with the president on the matter, too, which is not necessarily how a vote on the House bills would play out in the comparatively moderate U.S. Senate.
Yesterday, Trump signed an Executive Order directing his attorney general to petition a California court to modify a ruling dealing the administration has pointed to as the reason why it cannot house parents facing prosecution in the same facility as their children.
Yesterday, Trump signed an Executive Order directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to work to modify the ruling preventing the housing of parents facing prosecution in the same facility as their children.
In the meantime, Trump said the Department of Homeland Security should detain families together, unless the child’s welfare is threatened. His directive said that all family cases at the border should be prioritized whenever possible.
Trump said Thursday that family separation is also Democrats’ fault.
‘Democrat and court-ordered loopholes prevent family detention and lead to family separation, no matter how you cut it.
‘I signed a very good executive order yesterday, but that’s only limited — no matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately,’ he stated. ‘I’m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups.’
His directive called on DHS to shoulder the costs of detaining families together for as long as it takes for their cases to be heard by a judge. He made clear on Thursday in his messages that on any other aspect of the family separation issue he would not budge.
In the meantime, Trump said the Department of Homeland Security should detain families together.
His directive called on DHS to shoulder the costs of detaining families together for as long as it takes for their cases to be heard by a judge.
Trump said that lawmakers must use their authority to overhaul the immigration system once and for all.
‘The Border has been a big mess and problem for many years,’ he said. ‘At some point Schumer and Pelosi, who are weak on Crime and Border security, will be forced to do a real deal, so easy, that solves this long time problem. Schumer used to want Border security – now he’ll take Crime!’
Pelosi and Schumer, the top Democrats in the House and Senate respectively, and their caucuses were not expected to provide any votes for legislation today backing the president’s immigration priorities.
‘It may be a compromise with the Devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats,’ she retorted.
‘Democrats want open Borders, where anyone can come into our Country, and stay. This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!’ Trump harped on Twitter.
Pelosi at a news conference shortly after his tweet said, ‘The Democrats have taken full responsibility for securing our border. We know that is a responsibility that we have, but we don’t think that we have to put children in cages to do it. There is a better way.
‘And the president is either not knowing, not caring, delusional, in denial about his own policies being outside the circle of civilized human behavior,’ she said.
Pelosi told reporters that Trump’s zero-tolerance policy ‘so undermines who we are as a country.’
The compromise legislation that Republican leaders are pushing, she said, is not actually a compromise.
‘It may be a compromise with the Devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats,’ she retorted.
A Rather Boring Section About Paul Ryan
A Democratic lawmaker involved in the process told DailyMail.com earlier in the week that the opposing party would not cave to Trump’s demands to dramatically change the legal system in order to get some of the protections they want for undocumented immigrants.
House Speaker Paul Ryan at a Thursday news conference in the advance of the vote said that ‘Democrats took a walk’ after a judge said the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could remain in place while it is litigated.
Whether the two bills before the House dealing with immigration today pass, Ryan claimed it would still be a success for Republicans because they kept a discharge petition from going forward that would have upended regular order.
Instead of bills moving ahead through that process that the president was certain to veto, Ryan said the House now has a chance to pass legislation that Trump would be willing to sign.
He warned Democrats opposing the measures that one way or the other, ‘We’re probably going to end up with the president’s four pillars.’
Judges and Lawyers Abusing the System
In addition to his gripes about illegal immigrant gangs and the potential for terrorists to enter the nation, Trump this week claimed that judges and lawyers are abusing the system while casting a wide net of complaints around the current immigration system.
‘We want a great country. We want a country with heart,’ Trump said. ‘But when people come up, they have to know they’re not going to get in. Otherwise it will never stop.’
The president has rejected Democratic demands that the country hire more judges to adjudicate the cases of legitimate asylum seekers faster as part of the solution.
‘I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in,’ he said this week.
Trump said in a long explanation of his position in the middle of an unrelated speech that once a migrant puts ‘one foot’ on U.S. soil then ‘it’s essentially welcome to America. Welcome to our country. You’ll never get ’em out.’
‘Seriously, what country does it? They said, “Sir, we’d like to hire about five or six-thousand more judges.” Five or six-thousand? Now, can you imagine the graft that must take place?’ he claimed. ‘They line up to be a judge. It’s horrible.’
The other advantage migrants have, he said, are professional lawyers who coach them on exactly what to say.
‘Some are for good. Others are do-gooders. And others are bad people, and they tell these people exactly what to say,’ he stated. ‘I am being harmed in my country. My country is extremely dangerous. I fear for my life. Say that, congratulations, you’ll never be removed.’
He added, ‘And they’re not all bad people…but in a way that’s cheating. Because they’re giving them statements. They’re not coming up for that reason. They’re coming up for many other reasons. And sometimes for that reason.’
[The smugglers] are smart. They didn’t go to the Wharton School of Finance, but you know what. They’re really smart.’
Trump said the ease of entry has led to a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims throughout the last decade.
‘We’re a great country but you can’t do that. Smugglers know how the system works. They game the system. They game it. It’s so easy for them. They’re smart. They didn’t go to the Wharton School of Finance,’ he said, name-checking his alma mater, ‘but you know what. They’re really smart.’
The president said that lawmakers have ‘one chance’ to straighten out the immigration system.
‘Let’s do it right. We have a chance. We want to solve this problem,’ he stated.