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Attorneys for Bronfman, the youngest daughter of the late billionaire businessman Edgar M. Bronfman, dismissed the lawsuit as an attempt to gain a financial windfall.
“This complaint is, plain and simple, an attempt by the plaintiffs to use the legal system in pursuit of a big payday,” Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., one of Bronfman’s attorneys, said in a statement. “Our papers argue that the Court should not reward this transparent attempt for self-enrichment and should dismiss the complaint as to Clare Bronfman immediately.”
Bronfman’s fortune financed the cult’s activities, prosecutors said.
In 2019, she pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit identity theft, and one year later, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.
As part of her sentencing, Bronfman was fined $500,000 and agreed to forfeit $6 million from her $200 million fortune in addition to paying restitution to a victim.
The civil lawsuit was filed in January of 2020 by former NXIVM members, including Sarah Edmondson and Mark Vicente. It accused NXIVM’s cult leader and founder Keith Raniere, and members of his “inner circle” including Bronfman, her sister Sara, and former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack of fraud, forced labor, human trafficking and the conduct of unlawful medical experiments.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants peddled an inherently risky “pseudo-scientific hodgepodge of psychotherapeutic methods” as expensive courses, taken by thousands of unsuspecting people, many of whom lost their live savings and were severely traumatized by the process.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Bronfman sisters spent millions of dollars bankrolling campaigns against perceived enemies of the organization.
The lawsuit claims those activities included filing false criminal complaints and having lawyers send letters threatening lawsuits and criminal prosecution to women who were leaving “DOS,” the “master-slave” group Raniere created and operated in secret within NXIVM. The women-only sect branded members with Raniere's initials and coerced some of them into having sex with him.
But Bronfman’s attorneys said she was not involved in most of the activities alleged in the lawsuit, most notably “DOS.”
“The Plaintiffs spend more than 40 paragraphs detailing the history and inner workings of DOS, a highly secretive organization known only to its members. However, as the District Court previously noted in its ruling, 'the available evidence does not establish that [Bronfman] was aware of DOS prior to June 2017 or that she directly or knowingly funded DOS or other alleged sex trafficking activities,'" the attorneys said in a statement.
“For her part, Clare Bronfman had little to nothing to do with most of the accusations leveled. … Associating her with the oftentimes unsavory and salacious allegations is a thinly veiled effort to intimidate and pressure a woman from a family well known in the national and international community,” Bronfman’s attorneys wrote in their motion to dismiss. “Simply put, Plaintiffs perceive Clare Bronfman as a deep pocket, and hope to use this litigation to obtain a windfall.”
The attorneys also wrote that “Such strategic (or, at best, careless) pleading should not be rewarded. … [The lawsuit] does not state cognizable claims against Clare Bronfman and should be dismissed with prejudice.”
In an email response to Oxygen.com, Neil Glazer of Kohn, Swift & Graf, one of the law firms representing the victims wrote: “I don’t have anything to add to what we argue in our court filings. We’re confident the Judge will carefully review the parties’ submissions and render a decision in due course.”
Attorneys for Sara Bronfman are also seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out.
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