Seagram’s heir Clare Bronfman will be sentenced imminently Wednesday for aiding NXIVM founder Keith Raniere in building what has been described by former members as a sex slavery cult. Bronfman was a major bankroller of NXIVM, the “self-help” program alleged to be a pyramid scheme that was also a sex cult, and was one of five former members to plead guilty to crimes in connection with the group. However, per a letter to the judge, Bronfman still does not actually believe she, NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, or NXIVM did anything wrong since the group did not negatively affect her personally.
“Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and Nxivm, and that I have not is hard for them to understand and accept,” the letter read, in part. “However, for me, Nxivm and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.”
According to News10 ABC reporter Giuliana Bruno, who attended the sentencing, more than a dozen women gave victim impact statements before the sentencing, detailing “NXIVM ruining their lives and how it was enabled by Clare Bronfman’s inheritance.” Bronfman has admitted to keeping “a woman brought to the United States on a fake work visa in order to obtain that woman’s labor for herself and the organization,” according to the Guardian, as well as aiding Keith Raniere in using a dead woman’s credit card.
Over a decade ago, Bronfman quit her career as an equestrian in order to move to Albany, New York, NXIVM’s headquarters, to work more closely with the group’s founder, Keith Raniere, in order to grow the group’s “personal advancement programs” and “executive success program” (ESP) workshops, which have now been widely reported to be pyramid schemes. Though he was the one who introduced his daughter to NXIVM and ESP, by 2003, Bronfman’s billionaire father, Edgar Bronfman, had labeled the group a “cult” in Forbes and accused Raneire and co-founder Nancy Salzman of manipulating his daughters for money. She has also been accused of installing a keylogger on her father’s personal computer in order to allow members of the group access to Edgar Bronfman’s emails.
Salzman also pled guilty to charges of conspiracy. Salzman’s daughter, Lauren, pled guilty to racketeering and conspiracy. Court records also show that she admitted to enslaving two women for years as part of NXIVM’s secret “dominus obsequious sororium” (DOS) program, in which multiple women claim they were forced to have sex with Raniere, starve themselves, and have their bodies branded in “tribute” with the initials of Raniere and Allison Mack, a NXIVM member and television actress.
Mack also awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. She has also admitted in court to keeping a “slave,” though Mack’s wife, Battlestar Galactica actor and NXIVM member Nicki Clyne, insisted that NXIVM is not a “sex cult” on a Septemeber 29 episode of CBS This Morning:
“It’s very unfortunate the way that the word ‘Nxivm’ has been applied and is now synonymous with the term ‘sexual cult,’ which I don’t even know how to define what that is,” Clyne said.
Founder Keith Raneire was the only NXIVM member to stand trial. He was found guilty on seven counts, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and attempted sex trafficking in connection with NXIVM and DOS. However, Clyne and four other NXIVM members have brought a petition to Brooklyn prosecutors that claims Raneire was a victim of “prosecutorial misconduct” and demand that the prosecutors in the case account for accusations that they did their jobs by prosecuting crimes.
Bronfman is the first of the NXIVM members who pled guilty to lesser charges to receive sentencing. This post will be updated.
Update: Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to 81 months in prison, according to News10 ABC reporter Giuliana Bruno.