Lawyers for Allison Mack, former Smallville actress and cult leader, argued in court documents that if Scientologists aren’t guilty of exploiting forced labor through blackmail, then neither is she.
Mack was arrested in April 2018 alongside Keith Raniere on charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy. Raniere and Mack were the leaders of Nxivm, a pyramid scheme self-help cult that also included a secret master/slave sex group called DOS. Women involved in DOS claim they were branded and coerced into sex with Raniere. The pair kept dossiers of potentially embarrassing information about the women as collateral to keep them from leaving the group.
But according to Deadline, court documents filed on December 28 by Mack’s lawyers claim that blackmailing people in order to keep them tethered to a sex cult isn’t a crime since Scientologists do it too:
“The government argues that Ms. Mack obtained forced labor through ‘threats of serious harm,’ with serious harm being the embarrassment that would result from the exposure of one’s collateral,” the court filing said. “Courts have found, however, that such an outcome, albeit embarrassing, does not amount to serious harm under the statute.”
The documents are referring to a 2009 case in which a couple unsuccessfully sued the Church of Scientology. The court ruled that threatening to cut church members off from their loved ones if they didn’t continue to work doesn’t count as serious harm:
“The court did not find that plaintiffs were compelled to remain in the organization even though, if they chose to leave, they would be ‘excommunicated’ from their friends and family and labeled a ‘dissenter,’” Mack’s lawyers said. “The threat of reputational damage and isolation from loved ones therefore did not qualify as serious harm.”
If convicted, Mack faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.