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Seagram’s heiress and NXIVM member Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to more than six years behind bars for her role in the alleged cult.
Bronfman, 41, was sentenced to six years and nine months behind prison on Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court, the New York Times reports. She had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit identity theft last year for her role in NXIVM's illegal activity.
The pyramid-like group was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 after several former members blew the whistle on NXIVM's hidden inner sex cult with a shocking New York Times expose. The secret society was a group called DOS (an acronym for a Latin phrase which means “Master Over Slave Women") where women were branded after being forced to fork over collateral in order to serve NXIVM leader Keith Raniere and other high-ranking "slaves-turned-masters."
Since DOS was exposed, several high-ranking members have been arrested and convicted including Bronfman. The heiress, who was a member of the group's executive board, was the first of the group to be sentenced. As HBO’s “The Vow” reveals, she played a role in harassing and suing former members, and any perceived threat to Raniere, after they left the group.
During her hearing Wednesday, nine victims testified about how Bronfman hurt them.
“I pray that you will take the claws of Keith Raniere out of you, and you will learn who Clare Bronfman really is,” former member Susan Dones said while crying. She spent years fighting NXIVM in court following her 2009 departure from the group.
In a letter given to the court last month, Bronfman wrote that she “never meant to hurt anyone, however I have and for this I am deeply sorry,” the Associated Press reports.
The letter went on to say that “NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.”
In a filing previously obtained by Oxygen.com, prosecutors stated Bronfman used her “extraordinary wealth and social status” to fund NXIVM for more than a decade. They wrote that she spent “millions of dollars” to undercut anyone she felt betrayed the organization.
“She pursued Raniere’s accusers and critics by dispatching powerful teams of lawyers, private investigators and public relations firms to attempt to discredit them and dredge up information that could be used to undermine their claims,” prosecutors wrote. “Even now—after Raniere’s convictions for sex trafficking, forced labor, alien smuggling and child exploitation offenses—Bronfman continues to support Raniere.”
Bronfman’s lawyers argued that she deserved leniency because she had no direct involvement with some of the more shocking allegations, like DOS.
Raniere, who was convicted on racketeering, sex trafficking, and other charges in 2019, faces life behind bars. He’s expected to be sentenced on Oct. 27.
As part of her plea agreement, Bronfman agreed to forfeit $6 million from her $200 million fortune. She is the daughter of billionaire Edgar Bronfman.
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