Friday 23 August 2019

Actress admits manipulating women into becoming sex slaves for ‘cult’ leader

Allison Mack wept as she admitted her crimes in a federal court in Brooklyn.

Actress Allison Mack (Seth Wenig/AP)
Actress Allison Mack (Seth Wenig/AP)

By Tom Hays, Associated Press

TV actress Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to charges that she was involved in a scheme to turn women into sex slaves for the spiritual leader of a cult-like group.

Mack, 36, wept as she admitted her crimes and apologised to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Keith Raniere and the purported self-help group called NXIVM, based in upstate New York.

“I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people, and I was wrong,” Mack told a Brooklyn judge.

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Allison Mack leaves Brooklyn federal court (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Mack – best known for her role as a young Superman’s close friend on the series Smallville – said that after months of reflection since her arrest, “I know I can and will be a better person”.

The actress is to be sentenced on September 11 on two racketeering counts that each carry maximum terms of 20 years in prison. Sh is expected to face far less time under sentencing guidelines.

The plea means Mack will avoid going to trial with Raniere, wealthy heiress Clare Bronfman and another member of Raniere’s inner circle, Kathy Russell. All have pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

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Clare Bronfman (Mark Lennihan/AP)

About two hours after Mack’s guilty plea, potential jurors got their first glimpse of the jailed Raniere at a proceeding where they were instructed on questionnaires to be filled out as a first step in the selection process.

Opening statements are scheduled for April 29 for a trial that is expected to last up to six weeks.

The question of who jurors would see at the defence table had remained unanswered after new allegations that Raniere exploited a teenage girl.

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Kathy Russell (Mark Lennihan/AP)

The accusations gave his co-defendants even further incentive to seek separate trials and engage in plea negotiations.

Court papers allege NXIVM formed a secret society of women who were branded with Raniere’s initials and forced to have sex with him.

Defence lawyers have insisted any relationship between Raniere and the alleged victims, including an unidentified actress and other women expected to give evidence against him at trial, was consensual.

On Monday, Mack said that at Raniere’s direction, she obtained compromising information and images of two unidentified women – called “collateral” within the group – that she threatened to make public if they did not perform “so-called acts of love”.

The jury questionnaire covers several topics, including asking candidates for their opinions about “rich individuals” and people who “engage in relationships with multiple sexual partners” and whether they “believe that people under the age of 17 should be able to consent to sex with adults”.

PA Media

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