Former NXIVM Member Testifies Keith Raniere Was 'Trying to Break' Allison Mack

Keith Raniere
Image: AP

It’s been two weeks since the NXIVM trial began, and with each new testimony against leader Keith Raniere, details of abuse therein have become increasingly grim.

BuzzFeed reports that Mark Vicente, a former NXIVM executive turned whistleblower, left the organization after “more than a decade” after learning about DOS, the secret NXIVM wing accused of perpetuating sexual abuse. “I had a gut feeling of something really bad going on,” he told the court on Tuesday. “My instinct was screaming, ‘something is wrong.’” He described NXIVM as “a fraud. It’s a lie. It’s a well-intended veneer that covers horrible evil.”

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Vicente also testified that when he confronted Raniere about some of the women in the organization who appeared “wraith thin... their skin was translucent,” Raniere said he was “trying to break” them—specifically, Allison Mack, the Smallville actor and DOS’s second-in-command.

From BuzzFeed:

Vicente, a filmmaker, testified that Mack and the women in her inner circle were obsessed with calories and were extremely thin. He said he brought his concerns about Mack’s weight loss to Raniere, telling him that Mack “looks horrible” and that “she looks broken.”

“Well, I’m trying to break her,” Raniere responded, Vicente testified. Raniere brushed off his concerns, he said, telling him it can’t be that bad, as Mack was still getting her period.

The New York Times reported that Vicente also testified about another wing within NXIVM called the Society of Protectors Complete, which worked to enforce what he called “formalized misogyny.”

From the Times:

[Vicente] said that women within that group were given mantras to repeat, were “teased” over their clothing and made to hold weights for long periods. One woman, Clare Bronfman, the Seagram’s liquor heiress, was given a jockstrap, Mr. Vicente said, as a sign that she was too assertive. Mr. Vicente said that the sessions were informed by the belief, encouraged by Mr. Raniere, that men are the “arbitrators of reality” while women are “coddled” and “less than human.”

“They became shells of themselves,” he said of the women in those meetings. “They almost looked like they were beaten into submission.”

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Raniere’s trial is ongoing. Nancy Salzman, president of NXIVM, has a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 10 and Clare Bronfman, NXIVM’s financier, has a hearing July 25.

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Maria Sherman

Senior Writer, Jezebel. Opinions sometimes my own.