(CNN) — Keith Raniere, founder of the Nxivm company, was sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Federal District Judge Nicholas Garaufis read the sentence in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, after more than a dozen people made statements about the impact of the crime on the victim at their sentencing.
Garaufis said in his decision that the crimes for which Raniere was convicted are “cruel, perverse and extremely serious.”
“Despite everything that has happened and the countless victims who have given voice to his great pain, Mr. Raniere remains impassive. In fact, he maintains his innocence, ”Garaufis said.
“For him, the brave victims who have spoken out about the abuse suffered at his hands, including those who spoke today, are liars.”
The conviction of Keith Raniere
Raniere, 60, was convicted in 2019 by a jury in Brooklyn federal court on charges including extortion, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking.
“Keith Raniere will no longer be able to victimize people after today’s sentencing and we are very grateful for that,” said Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Seth DuCharme.
“Listening to the victims, I was amazed that Raniere really misrepresented people’s trust and their need to find some meaning and hope in their lives in the most insidious and devious ways.”
The victims speak
Fifteen of Raniere’s victims spoke or their statements were read during the sentencing hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for Eastern New York.
One of those victims was the 15-year-old girl at the center of the charge of sexual exploitation of a minor for which Raniere was convicted.
A redacted copy of the victim impact statement was published in the court file. In this one, she said that she was 15 and he was 45 when they started having sex, and that he took nude photos of her.
“Although she concealed our sexual relationship from others, she explained it by telling me that she was very mature for my age. And now I know it was false, it was a girl, “said his statement about the impact on the victim.
“He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me, not just sexually but also psychologically.”
CNN does not report the name of the girl, who is now an adult.
Also on Raniere’s corner is “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicki Clyne, who participated in part in Nxivm’s alleged scheme and has not been charged with any crime. She did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.
Meanwhile, efforts by supporters to write letters and a petition demanding that prosecutors acknowledge whether they acted ethically in the case “appear to be led” by Raniere, government attorneys said in a court docket.
Reiterate their innocence
The New York Times reported that Raniere spoke in court at the time of his sentencing, maintaining his innocence. He said that some of the victims were lying but also said that he was “deeply sorry.”
“The place I am in has been caused by me,” Raniere said, according to The New York Times. “This is all my doing.”
Raniere’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CNN.
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The girl for whom Raniere was convicted of sexual exploitation when she was 15 years old said in her victim impact statement that she would not say Raniere’s name out loud.
“I’ll just call him ‘him,'” his statement read. “He deserves nothing more than that.”
She detailed how she met Raniere at the age of 13. And how he set her up by asking her sexually explicit questions “that increased in detail over time.”
“He told me to keep everything a secret, immediately separating myself from my family and friends and effectively becoming my only resource,” said his statement.
She said that when she was older and tried to distance herself from him, he punished her “emotionally, psychologically and sexually.”
He said he was able to leave Raniere and the Nxivm community in 2017, thanks to his sister, Daniela, who testified against Raniere at his trial.
As I write this statement, the seriousness of what he did to me becomes increasingly clear. He hid his abuse behind ideas and concepts of nobility, “says his statement.
“He demanded loyalty but was loyal to no one but himself. He left me weak, confused, and completely unprepared for life beyond his control.
Her sister, Daniela, testified at trial that after she found out that Raniere was having sex with her sister, he told her: “… there were some women, girls, who were more emotionally mature than others.
The girls’ father was one of those who sent letters in support of Raniere before his sentencing in which he called the founder of Nxivm “of an honest intelligence, complete, brilliant, always ready to help, cheerful and in love with humanity” .
Garaufis said he found the man’s letter “a disgrace.”
“I am frankly puzzled as to why anyone thought this letter would help Mr. Raniere,” Garaufis said in his decision.
Garaufis also said Raniere’s abuse of the girl was “cruel to the point of being inhuman.”
The girl was part of a group called DOS. Prosecutors said it was a secret group of women who would become “slaves” once they joined the group. And that they were afraid to leave because their “masters” had compromising information about them.
India Oxenberg, who was also a “slave” to DOS, wrote in her victim impact statement that she was “instructed” to seduce Raniere and was branded with Raniere’s initials, without her knowing. Raniere was not charged in connection with his allegations.
Marks on the skin
“They marked me with a cauterizing pen,” said Oxenberg’s statement.
“This extremely painful procedure lasted over 30 minutes and took months to heal. I may have to live the rest of my life with Keith Raniere’s initials etched into my flesh. I’m not sure how I can completely put this behind me. “
Oxenberg said in his statement that he wakes up in the middle of most nights, reliving Raniere’s “unwanted touch.”
“I was totally frozen, leaving my body to not have to be with you when you rubbed my mark with your fingers without me knowing that it was your monogram that you were looking at and smiling,” said her statement.
Oxenberg said in her statement that she would like to never again have to live in fear that Raniere will victimize her or others.
LEE: 6 weeks of the Nxivm trial leave gruesome details: women were branded and pressured to have sex with Keith Raniere (2019)
What prosecutors say about Raniere
Prosecutors described Raniere as the leader of a criminal enterprise that recruited people in Nxivm to exploit them “for proxy, for profit or for sex.”
They argued at their trial that Raniere “maintained control over his followers and his criminal organization … by ensuring that no one questioned him.”
“No one could challenge his authority,” said Assistant US Attorney Tanja Hajjar. “The defendant used shame and humiliation as ways to break people.”
Since his conviction, Raniere has remained “unrepentant” and “without empathy for his victims,” prosecutors wrote.
They shared in their sentencing memorandum emails and transcripts of conversations Raniere has had in recent months from prison with those who still support him.
“Through his communications with his supporters, Raniere repeatedly attempts to present himself as the victim of persecution and harassment from the government and unknown enemies,” prosecutors wrote.
In a February email to a supporter, an imprisoned Raniere wrote that his prosecution was a “political lie, fueled by envy, fueled by money to destroy a community and keep me incarcerated for life or ‘cast off,'” records showed. federal.
Referring to Garaufis, who oversaw his trial, Raniere in a phone call in April with a supporter said: “This judge needs to know that he is being watched,” prosecutors say.
Raniere in another conversation with that supporter “offers lengthy tirades” about the criminal justice system, “presumably for publication on a podcast,” prosecutors said.
They reject a new trial
Garaufis had denied Raniere’s motion for a new trial on Friday, in which his attorneys cited testimony from people like Clyne as “newfound evidence.”
She wrote in an affidavit this month that she wanted to testify in Raniere’s defense at his trial, but was unable to because of “threats from the prosecution.” Prosecutors called these claims “unfounded” in court documents.
Garaufis wrote in his opinion that he takes the prosecution’s misconduct allegations seriously, but that the allegations in the affidavits submitted “provide scant and highly questionable evidence” that the government improperly threatened or intimidated witnesses.
In defense of Raniere
Raniere emailed Clyne, a former DOS teacher, in November 2019, still defending DOS and calling it “noble” and “vitally important to women and humanity.”
“It is tragic that the current organization has been hampered by a few envious men who abuse positions of power in government, the media and the cinema; some women who did not fulfill their honor and sacred vows; and people in general who simply feel threatened by this idea, ”Raniere wrote in a November 2019 email shared in a memo from prosecutors.
In her Oct. 9 affidavit, Clyne wrote that when the idea of DOS was discussed in 2015, she “knew it wouldn’t be for everyone.”
LEE: Clare Bronfman, sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in the Nxivm case; a sentence greater than recommended
“I thought maybe only a handful of women would want to embark on this more extreme version of training and personal responsibility,” Clyne wrote. Perhaps the idea was simply too extreme or too controversial for most of the people in his ways. I am willing to accept that reality. But that it was abusive or misleading in any way is something I will strongly dispute.
Five women who had been part of the Nxivm leadership have pleaded guilty to crimes related to the scheme.
Among them is Clare Bronfman, heir to the Seagram spirits fortune, who was sentenced in September to nearly seven years in prison. His attorneys are in the process of filing an appeal.
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