A “slave” in the alleged NXIVM sex cult took the stand Tuesday to reveal graphic details about the sexual favors she says the group’s female members were forced to perform during the first day of testimony in the racketeering and sex trafficking trial of leader Keith Raniere.
The 32-year-old British woman, identified in court as “Sylvie,” gave emotional testimony about how she was forced to send sexually explicit images of herself to Raniere, who she found “creepy,” after being ordered to seduce him by her female “master,” according to The New York Post.
Sylvie had been recruited to the group at age 18 by Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman—but it wasn’t until she was recruited into a secret sorority within the group that things took a horrifying turn.
Sylvie was forced to provide “collateral” to her female “master” Monica Duran to enter the group and testified that she provided nude photographs and a stamped letter to her parents that said she was a prostitute as her collateral, The New York Times reports.
“Now I was Monica’s slave and she was my master and the collateral was in place to keep that going,” Sylvie said in court.
Once she was allowed into the secretive group known as “Dominus Obsequious Sororium” which loosely translates in Latin to “Master Over the Slave Women,” Duran gave her “assignments” to complete, including one demanding that she seduce Raniere.
Sylvie testified in court that she thought Raniere was “kind of a short, creepy-looking man” but ultimately sent him a message saying, “You look sexy in your glasses.”
But, Raniere responded that she’d “have to do better than that” and encouraged her to send photos of herself where she was more “vulnerable.”
The witness testified that she began sending nude photos of herself that continued to go lower on her body until “literally, in the end, they were just of my vagina.” She claims over the next few months the demands became increasingly perverse and that eventually Raniere gave her “poses” to do, The Post reports.
Sylvie broke down in sobs when recounting how her father later discovered the images in an icloud folder, telling his daughter “I found your medical photos.” After the humiliating incident, Sylvie said she wanted to stop sending the images but was told she’d need Raniere’s permission.
She said Raniere told her she could stop sending the images but that “the next step would be in person,” according to The New York Daily News.
The court adjourned for the day before Sylvie’s testimony ended—however, in opening statements earlier in the day federal prosecutor Tanya Hajjar told jurors members of the secretive sex-slave group were branded with Raniere’s initials and forced to hand over the deeds to their homes, bank account information and details about their “deepest, darkest secrets” to keep them under the group’s control.
While Raniere framed the organization as a self-help group aiding women in achieving their highest potential, in reality, prosecutors believe the group was a front for sex trafficking, identity theft and extortion.
“The defendant said he was a mentor, but he was a predator,” Hajjar said.
She claimed Raniere recruited heiresses, TV actresses and other women into the group gain power and control over them.
Raniere even controlled a family of Mexican immigrants with three daughters. He reportedly had sex with all three daughters, including a 15-year-old girl identified in court as Camilla, and held one of the older girls against her will for two years.
He allegedly kept sexually explicit photos of the 15-year-old who he referred to as “Virgin Camilla” on his computer and urged the young teen to recruit other “slaves” for the group.
“This was organized crime, and Keith Raniere was the crime boss in the community,” Hajjar said, according to The Times. “He was untouchable.”
One actress in her 30s reportedly first met the self-help guru, who once compared himself to Gandhi, while “blindfolded and tied to a table.” The woman, named Nicole, said during the meeting that Camilla came in and began to perform oral sex on her, The Post reports.
In the weeks leading up to the trial, five women who had faced charges along with Raniere agreed to plead guilty to various charges, including "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges, according to The New York Times.
Raniere’s attorney Marc Agnifilo told jurors that his client’s mission was to help his followers reach their goals and never forced any of the women to do anything against their will.
He told the jury that women had been recruited to the secret society as part of a “sisterhood” and that his intentions had been to genuinely help people.
“I don’t have to defend everything,” he said. “But I will defend his good faith.”
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