On Tuesday, Keith Raniere, leader of NXIVM, was condemned to 120 years in jail for his involvement in running a criminal organization, which included a cult-like sorority in which women have been marked with his initials and sexually abused.
In a tweet, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York publicized the penalty.
After a turbulent six-week court hearing in which jurors learned detailed evidence regarding his polygamous sexual preferences as well as the various ways in which he coerced his fervent supporters into engaging in sexual acts or forced labor, prosecutors requested a life sentence for Raniere, 60, who has been acquitted last year of seven felonies.
"Raniere recruited individuals into organizations he founded, purportedly for their own benefit, and then exploited them-for power, for profit, or for sex," stated in a recent report by the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's Eastern District. "The sentence imposed on Raniere should reflect the immeasurable damage he has done to his victims."
Raniere controlled the Albany, New York, the organization he established, NXIVM, for more than 15 years, a supposed self-help group whose members paid a fortune for different courses and classwork. Yet NXIVM was allegedly a criminal organization charged by prosecutors whose participants treated Raniere as an all-knowing mentor and called him "Vanguard."
Recently, the focus of the HBO documentary film, The Vow, was Raniere and the NXIVM.
Raniere convicted of seven felonies
In the last year's court hearing, prosecutors revealed audiotapes and exhibited emails showing that Raniere privately operated a subgroup of NXIVM named DOS, an all-female association whose participants have been regarded as "slaves" who submitted to "masters" and were needed as leverage, to offer up naked photographs and confidential information.
The "slaves" have been branded with a mark bearing Raniere's initials around their pubic region, while others have been instructed to adopt low-calorie diets as they have been primed for sex with Raniere, who has been secretly the highest "master" of the organization.
While acknowledging a jury acquitted him of these abuses, lawyers Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian stated in a Sept. 19 document setting out their sentencing preferences, Raniere still "continues to assert his complete innocence to these charges."
Raniere's legal counsel has requested Garaufis to condemn Raniere to no more than 15 years in jail in the latest court documents while also preparing the framework for a future appeal.
"The jury's verdict, however, did not reflect the quality of the evidence but rather was a product of a media campaign involving witnesses who were motivated to testify falsely, a heavy-handed prosecution that threatened potential defense witnesses and, most respectfully, an unfair trial where, we believe, the Court was not provided with full, candid information from the prosecution," Raniere's attorneys stated.
Raniere remains to have a number of dedicated supporters, and many who, in support of him, wrote a letter to Garaufis. Raniere's hearing is set to resume Tuesday morning and last for most of the day, as some of his victims expect to give testimonies to the judge.
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