The jury only needed four hours Wednesday to come to a verdict on accused “sex slave cult” leader Keith Raniere, the man whose followers called him “Vanguard” and who worked closely with former “Smallville” star Allison Mack to recruit new women to his infamous “self-help” group. The verdict: guilty of all charges.
The swiftly delivered verdict means “Vanguard” is facing a potential sentence of life in prison for a string of serious charges, including “sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion,” “attempting to establish peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, trafficking,” “sexual exploitation of a child,” and “possession of child pornography.”
“There was no shortage whatsoever of lurid testimony over the course of an accused sex cult leader’s trial in the Eastern District of New York, and it didn’t take long for a jury of his peers to reach a verdict,” Law & Crime reported Wednesday. Among the disturbing accusations presented in the trial is that Raniere created a sex slave “pyramid,” keeping women loyal through blackmail and manipulation, and encouraged his followers to abort their children in the interest of his sexual desires. Along with being “lurid,” the hearing was also highly contentious, the outlet reports:
In one instance, Judge Nicholas Garaufis (who apparently has quite a reputation) erupted, yelled “You’re done” multiple times at Raniere’s defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo. It happened while government cooperator, Lauren Salzman, was being cross examined by Agnifilo. This prompted Agnifilo to file a motion for a mistrial. The judge rejected his argument. Salzman, a former NXIVM member, recounted how she and Raniere were taking a nap at a Mexican villa when the feds showed up to arrest him. She said this happened just before a planned group oral sex session was to occur.
Agnifilo’s attempt to defend Raniere by describing his lifestyle as “disgusting,” but not illegal, ultimately failed to convince the jury, who determined that he was guilty of a lengthy list of shameful crimes. (Read more from “Jury Finds Leader of NXIVM Sex Cult Guilty of All Charges” HERE)