Keith Raniere, who ran a cult-like group that kept women as virtual sex prisoners to service him in upstate New York, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday. The shadowy group that operated near Albany, N.Y., has been the subject of the HBO docuseries “The Vow.”
Raniere was convicted on federal sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography charges last year for his role in the alleged sex cult called NXIVM (pronounced “nexium”).
In a jailhouse interview that aired Friday on “Dateline NBC,” Raniere apologized for the “tragedy” and “hurt” he caused victims — but also said that he’s not guilty of any crimes.
“I am innocent,” Raniere said.
“This is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt,” he added. “There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I’m the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined.”
It took jurors in Brooklyn just a few hours in June 2019 to convict Raniere. In running a purported self-help organization near Albany, New York, he created a secret sorority called DOS in which female “slaves” turned over compromising materials that were used to blackmail and force them into sex, prosecutors said.
One former NXIVM member, India Oxenberg, daughter of “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg, said once she became ensnared in the group, it was difficult to leave.
“When you’re unaware, it’s so easy to be led astray, especially by people who are masters at manipulation,” Oxenberg told ABC’s “Good Morning America” this month.
NXIVM’s president, Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman, bookkeeper Kathy Russell and Claire Bronfman, the Seagram liquor heiress, have all pleaded guilty to various charges.
Bronfman was a key NXIVM benefactor and sentenced to 81 behind bars. She admitted last year that she harbored someone who was living in the U.S. illegally for unpaid “labor and services” and that she committed credit card fraud on behalf of Raniere.