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Where Are The Key Players Of The NXIVM Case From HBO's 'The Vow' Now?
The second season of "The Vow" highlights what came of several NXIVM members, including leader-turned-convicted-sex-offender Keith Raniere.
The drama continues to unfold surrounding an upstate New York-based self-improvement group known as NXIVM, now believed to be a sex cult led by controversial figure Keith Raniere. Converts, some of whom would draw attention to the group because of their quasi-celebrity status, flocked to Raniere’s centers (headquartered in Clifton Park, New York) in hopes of attaining enlightenment. But, as featured in HBO’s 2020 series “The Vow,” some of the group’s core followers would step away from Raniere’s teachings, coming to the realization they were victims of years-long brainwashing and abuse.
As a handful of devotees veered away from Raniere, allegations of sex abuse and racketeering came to light. A 2017 New York Times piece would help catapult Raniere and what prosecutors alleged was a “sex cult” into the spotlight, just as the #MeToo social movement gained momentum following accusations against Hollywood film exec Harvey Weinstein.
Authorities say that some women were recruited into a secret subgroup of NXIVM called DOS, which stands for “Dominus Obsequious Sororium,” a Latin phrase roughly translating to a sisterhood enslaved to a master. Those recruited would provide “collateral” or sensitive information that could be used against them if they were deemed insubordinate within the group, authorities alleged.
“Collateral” often included members’ social media passwords, nude photos and taped confessions that could be used as blackmail.
Within DOS, some women were branded with Raniere’s initials burned into their flesh and placed in ranks, becoming subservient to those who placed above them, part of a “slave-master” class system that worked much like a pyramid scheme, as prosecutors alleged in a complaint reviewed by Oxygen.com. Rigid demands had members on “starvation diets” that put the women in a severe calorie deficit and running on very little sleep. Members were also allegedly forced to work without pay and coerced into having sexual relations with Raniere — one of his alleged victims would be as young as 15 years old, according to the complaint.
Raniere was arrested in 2018 in Mexico and returned to the U.S., where he pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including racketeering and sex trafficking. (In 2019, he was found guilty on charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy, and later sentenced to 120 years in prison and ordered to pay a $1.75 million fine.)
Arrests of several in Raniere’s inner circle would soon follow.
Premiering Monday, Oct. 17, “The Vow” returns to HBO for a second season, this time “set against the backdrop of the federal trial of The United States Against Keith Raniere,” according to a media release by HBO. The six-part docu-series, again directed by the Emmy award-winning Jehane Noujaim, shows the aftermath following Raniere’s arrest and the fallout faced by his “trusted inner circle of acolytes.”
Here is a round-up of some of NXIVM’s key characters and where they are today.
1. Allison Mack
Perhaps one of the more notable NXIVM members because of her role in the CW series “Smallville” was actress Allison Mack, 40, a higher-up in Raniere’s alleged cult. Federal prosecutors accused Mack of being one of NXIVM’s top recruiters and collecting new members’ collateral before allowing them into DOS.
Mack was initially charged in 2018 on federal charges related to sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, according to the Washington Post. She was sentenced to three years behind bars, fined $20,000 and ordered to serve 1,000 hours of community service.
Had she been convicted on the initial charges, Mack faced 40 years in federal prison.
Mack has since separated herself from NXIVM and Raniere, calling her involvement the “biggest mistake and greatest regret” of her life, according to a statement previously reviewed by Oxygen.com.
Mack is serving her sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, and is eligible for release on March 29, 2024, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
2. Clare Bronfman
Like Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman’s status outside NXIVM also helped draw attention to the group. But unlike Mack, Bronfman wasn’t so quick to separate herself from Raniere following his arrest.
According to reporting in the New York Times, the heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, Bronfman, 43, was not part of DOS, but her wealth to help finance NXIVM.
She eventually pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to conceal illegal immigrants for profit and identity theft.
“NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better,” Bronfman told a judge just before she was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, according to the Washington Post.
As part of her judgment, Bronfman agreed to forfeit $6 million of her $200 million fortune.
The judge in her case stated Bronfman needed to be made an example to those who choose to “avert their gaze,” according to Insider.
In February, Bronfman filed an appeal, and about three months later, in May, Bronfman and Raniere appeared in a federal court to challenge their respective sentences, according to the New York Post. Those cases are pending.
Bronfman remains at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and is eligible for release in 2026.
3. Nicki Clyne
While having no mention in season one of “The Vow,” 39-year-old Canadian actress Nicole 'Nicki' Clyne — whose biggest role was on SyFy’s “Battlestar Gallactica” — is heavily featured in season two.
Clyne, a former DOS member, married Allison Mack in 2017.
Mack filed for divorce in 2020 while still facing criminal charges.
According to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com, Clyne was subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury. However, she later asserted her fifth amendment right to protect herself from self-incrimination and was not included in the federal indictment.
Clyne remains a loyal supporter of Raniere, one of several people to create “Make Justice Blind,” a group dedicated to proving what they believe is Raniere’s wrongful conviction.
On Monday, the same day season two of “The Vow” premiered, Clyne released a lengthy essay blasting the series after claiming to see the complete first season for the first time.
“Imagine how easy it is [to] reconstruct a fictional story using carefully-selected clips from 15 years of footage,” Clyne wrote.
She accused the whistleblowers of the story of being motivated by fame.
4. India Oxenberg
Featuring heavily in “The Vow” season one is Catherine Oxenberg, former “Dynasty” actress and the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. Catherine is shown making numerous television appearances in an attempt to draw her daughter, India, away from Raniere’s secret society as a “slave,” ranking below Allison Mack.
India Oxenberg previously told Oxygen.com she joined NXIVM at 19, five years before being initiated into DOS. By then, according to Oxenberg, she was too brainwashed to fully grasp what was happening around her.
“There were many things that I experienced that I either distorted completely so I could see it as a positive thing or that Allison or the other higher-ranking members in NXIVM, not only in DOS, would change my way of thinking about something that was uncomfortable to me or a red flag,” she said.
India is a current member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council (NLC), a group supporting survivors of sexual violence. As highlighted in a September interview, Oxenberg continues to speak against sexual violence.
In 2020, Oxenberg self-narrated an Audible audiobook titled “Still Learning: A Memoir.” Her mother, Catherine, also published “Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from the Terrifying Cult, NXIVM” in 2019.
5. Nancy Salzman
Keith Raniere’s second in command was Nancy Salzman, 68, referred to by devotees as “Prefect.” According to Newsweek, Salzman was a nurse with a keen interest in hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming.
Together, Salzman and Raniere created executive success programs (ESPs) in the 1990s, which eventually grew into NXIVM.
Salzman heavily influenced NXIVM followers — especially as the face in numerous NXIVM tutorials. She eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering in 2019 and also confessed to trying to doctor footage and records of NXIVM’s activities following a lawsuit against the group.
Salzman attempted to distance herself from Raniere when she said she was “horrified” and “ashamed” of her actions. However, some skeptics questioned whether her claims were authentic or, instead, an attempt at a lighter sentence, as highlighted in “The Vow” season two.
Salzman is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence in a federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, and will be eligible for release in December 2024, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
6. Lauren Salzman
The daughter of Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, 46, also pleaded guilty in 2019 to racketeering charges. A junior leader within NXIVM and a “master” in the DOS ranking system, Lauren testified, according to Rolling Stone, to keeping one of her “slaves” locked in a room of her New York residence between 2010 and 2012, threatening the female with deportation.
Salzman was with Raniere after he fled to Mexico and later referred to her guru as a “bully” and a “coward.”
Federal prosecutors pushed for a lenient sentence despite her involvement because she was instrumental in helping authorities take down Raniere, according to NBC News.
In 2021, Salzman was sentenced to time served, received five years probation in exchange for her “extraordinary” cooperation, and was ordered to do 300 hours of community service.
Little has been reported on Lauren Salzman since her conviction. However, according to a 2021 sentencing memorandum, lawyers say she has “consciously made the decision to avoid any career path that resembled her prior life in NXIVM.” The memo states Salzman chose to work with animals, having earned several certificates in the dog grooming business.
On Tuesday, the Albany Times-Union reported that both Nancy and Lauren Salzman were no longer the subjects of a civil lawsuit after dozens of plaintiffs dropped the suit.
7. Keith Raniere
In March 2018, Keith Raniere hid in a closet, leaving his followers to face authorities when they found him at an exclusive Mexico resort. He was arrested for a multitude of charges, including sex trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, forced labor, identity theft and obstruction of justice.
One of Raniere’s victims would testify that Raniere raped her at 15 and photographed the girl while she was still a minor.
“I can still hear his voice in my head,” the victim testified, referring to Raniere as a “monster.”
Following a six-week trial, Raniere was found guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy, and later sentenced to serve 120 years in federal prison and to pay a $1.75 million fine.
“I do believe I am innocent of the charges,” Raniere stated, according to the Associated Press. “It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all."
In July 2021, Raniere was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $3.5 million to a total of 21 victims for medical and labor expenses, as well as funds to have the branding surgically removed from his victims’ bodies.
In September, Raniere filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons after another convicted sex trafficker attacked Raniere, leaving him with a black eye, nausea, and dizziness, according to NBC News. Raniere claimed staff members at the Tucson, Arizona federal facility ignored his requests for an ice pack.
Raniere was subsequently moved to a special housing unit and is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.