There is a bizarre story making headlines this week involving alleged sex cult leader Keith Raniere, a supposed self-help group called Nxivm, and former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack.
What is Nxivm? The organization’s website calls it “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.”
TMZ reports that Raniere, Nxivm’s founder, was arrested in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, this week and extradited to the U.S. on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. He denies wrongdoing and a statement on the Nxivm website says, “We are currently working with the authorities to demonstrate his innocence and true character.”
Senior FBI official William Sweeney detailed the accusations of sex slavery, branding, and manipulation, telling the press, "Keith Raniere displayed a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves.”
Sweeney continued, “He allegedly participated in horrifying acts of branding and burning them, with the co-operation of other women operating within this unorthodox pyramid scheme. These serious crimes against humanity are not only shocking, but disconcerting to say the least, and we are putting an end to this torture today."
What is Mack’s alleged involvement in the story? Nxivm’s former publicist Frank Parlato has long claimed that the actress is Raniere’s second in command, and that she runs a special group within Nxivm called DOS that follows a master-slave hierarchy, and forces women to recruit other slaves in a pyramid-style scheme. Mack, who is reportedly seen in this video of Raniere’s arrest, has not commented on the accusations.
Mack isn’t the only famous name linked to the “cult.” A New York Times exposé published in October, revealed that “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg’s daughter India had been a member. Meanwhile, in 2010, Vanity Fair published an in depth-look at Sara and Clare Bronfman’s involvement with Nxivm and Raniere, which reportedly cost the Seagram liquor heiresses around $150 million.