Keith Raniere Sentenced to 120 Years
David K. Li
The shadowy group that operated near Albany, New York, has been the subject of the HBO docuseries “The Vow.”
Keith Raniere, who ran a cult-like group that kept women as virtual sex prisoners to service him in upstate New York, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday.
Raniere was convicted on federal sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography charges last year for his role in the alleged sex cult called NXIVM (pronounced “nexium”).
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who presided over the six-week trial last year that ended in Raniere convicted on all counts.
As he announced the sentence, Garaufis noted that Raniere labeled some of the victims’ claims lies. The judge told a woman who Raniere ordered to be kept in a room for two years when she was 18: “What happened to you is not your fault.” He said that went for the other victims too.
Raniere, who looked at victims as they spoke in the courtroom, maintained his defiant tone, although he said he was “truly sorry” that his organization led to a place where “there is so much anger and so much pain.”
“I do believe I am innocent of the charges. … It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all,” Raniere said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said he hopes the sentence will serve as a deterrence to any aspiring cult leaders.
“When justice catches up to you, as it did today, it is severe,” DuCharme told reporters outside court in Brooklyn. “Keith Raniere will not be able to victimize people anymore after today’s sentence and we’re very grateful for that.”
Marc Elliot, a former NXIVM member and supporter of Raniere’s, said the defendant didn’t get a fair trial.
“We all should be fighting for due process no matter how much you don’t like it or how inconvenient it is,” Elliot said. “Because if someone or society ever turns on you, you better hope to God that due process and laws are still standing to protect you.”
In a jailhouse interview that aired Friday on “Dateline NBC,” Raniere apologized for the “tragedy” and “hurt” he caused victims — but also said that he’s not guilty of any crimes.