A former high-ranking member of the alleged cult NXIVM testified against its alleged leader in court on Monday, accusing him of whipping, beating and playing other kinds of sex games with his top female members.
Lauren Salzman detailed the allegations in Brooklyn federal court, testifying that Keith Raniere had plans to build a sex dungeon in a home the group owned in Waterford, N.Y.
“They were making a dungeon in the basement. There would be a cage for the people who were most committed to growth,’’ Salzman testified. Two cages had already been ordered for the dungeon, according to the New York Post.
Salzman testified that being locked in a cage for days until surrendering was supposed to be a way for the most committed members to grow.
Raniere, 58, is accused of founding and running NXIVM, which framed itself as a self-help group but which prosecutors say was really a cult-like organization that coerced female members into sexual fealty to Raniere.
Salzman said Raniere had sex with seven of the eight members of the top inner circle, known as DOS — an acronym for a Latin phrase roughly translated as "Lord/master of obedient women." Included in that group of eight was TV’s “Smallville” actress Allison Mack and her now-wife, Nicki Clyne, according to Salzman’s testimony.
Salzman said she was once a “slave master’’ in the cult, according to the New York Post. She said she recruited six women, whom she called her “slaves,” and who were inducted into the group.
Among the more sensational allegations: Some women "slaves" in a secret NXIVM sorority were branded with Raniere's initials as part of their initiation. Others were threatened with the release of their collateral - nude photos and other embarrassing material that female members turned over to their "masters" to ensure obedience and silence - if they didn't have unwanted sex with him.
Salzman pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in March. At that time, she admitted keeping a slave locked in a room for more than two years.
“I knowingly and intentionally harbored Jane Doe 4, a woman whose identity is known to me, in a room in the home in the Northern District of New York,” Salzman testified earlier in the spring, according to unsealed court transcripts quoted by the New York Post.
She also told the judge that she kept the woman captive from March 2010 to April 2012 while “[threatening] to deport Jane Doe 4 back to Mexico if she did not complete labor requested by myself and others.”
On Monday, Salzman provided more sensational details about the alleged inner workings of the group. She testified the DOS would take naked photos before every meeting.
“We were taking naked pictures — up-close vagina pictures — three times a week. We were running out of ideas as to what to do’’ Salzman said, according to the New York Post. She said it was hard to keep Raniere satisfied
“We would take the naked picture, and everyone would take the number of whips commensurate with our failures,’’ she said.
They were then whipped and paddled with a spiked sex toy, she claimed.
Salzman testified that she was even branded during a 2017 ceremony.
“Master, please brand me, it would be an honor, an honor I want to wear for the rest of my life,” she testified, according to the New York Times, detailing how Raniere’s initials were branded onto her hip.
“It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced,” she said.
She and other members would do tasks at the orders of Raniere, and were punished severely if they didn't fulfill their duties, she testified.
Meanwhile, Mack pleaded guilty last month to charges she manipulated women into becoming sex slaves for the group's spiritual leader.
"I believed Keith Raniere's intentions were to help people, and I was wrong," Mack told a judge while pleading guilty to racketeering charges.
Raniere has pleaded not guilty to sex-trafficking and other charges.
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