You’ll never look at Halfmoon the same again. Fifty-eight-year-old Keith Raniere, a one-time resident and leader of the international sex cult NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”), which he, in part, ran out of a house there, was found guilty on all charges in a Brooklyn federal court on June 19. The charges ranged from sexual trafficking and forced labor conspiracy to racketeering and sexual exploitation of a child. He’s facing life in prison, and is set to be sentenced on September 25.
Raniere was first arrested last March. It had been revealed in a bombshell 2017 article in the New York Times that he had had lured in and initiated female members by having them take part in “master/slave” rituals and branding his initials on their lower hip. (He’d used his Halfmoon townhouse as a “sex lair.”) Per the Times, the group had been around since the late 1990s and had been selling itself to potential new members as a group that offered “Executive Success Programs”—complete with workshops on how to get ahead professionally. Saratogian Jason Brown tells saratoga living that last year, he and a friend, who both work in creative industries, had been at an Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy meeting, when they were approached by two members of the group—who didn’t initially identify themselves as NXIVM recruiters—and gave him and his friend a spiel on the Executive Success Programs. Brown and his friend both received follow-up calls from the group, inviting them to an informational meeting, but both declined. NXIVM recruited heavily in the creative community, and one of its highest-ranking members was one-time Smallville actress Allison Mack, who has already pled guilty to charges stemming from her involvement with the group (she will also be sentenced in September). Other notable members included Emiliano Salinas, the son of a former president of Mexico; and Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram Co. fortune (Clare has since pled guilty to a felony; Sara is facing a class-action lawsuit in Saratoga County court).
As NPR reports, after the verdict was handed down, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue told reporters that: “This trial has revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a massive manipulator, a conman and crime boss of a cult-like organization involving sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion compelled abortions, branding degradation and humiliation.”