The federal judge presiding over the prosecution in the NXIVM sex cult case released a dazzling memo about his decision to sentence actor Allison Mack to three years in prison for his role in helping guru Keith Raniere of mutual aid who is now a convicted sex trafficker serving a sentence of 120 years.
U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis was very adept at his words. He blamed Mack for using his celebrity status as the star of longtime CW drama “Smallville” to recruit others to submit to Raniere’s twisted wishes. Mack’s ultimate downfall was her involvement in what was supposed to be a women’s empowerment group known as DOS which turned out to involve master-slave relationships between members, some of whom were coerced into have sex with Raniere. Raniere was convicted of multiple counts of sex trafficking, racketeering, conspiracy and fraud and sentenced to 120 years in prison last year.
“You abused this position of power to persuade and pressure women to join DOS,” Garaufis wrote. “You capitalized on your fame and these people’s eagerness to be close to you, told them you were recruiting them for a ‘women’s empowerment’ sorority, and twisted and masked some basic facts about the organization. and the conditions of membership. You told them Keith Raniere wasn’t involved. You didn’t tell them that they would be forced to behave sexually.
Mack was also fined $ 20,000 and 1,000 hours of community service. She will surrender to authorities on September 29. Her lawyers have asked that she be allowed to serve her sentence in a federal prison on the west coast because her family lives in Orange County.
Here are key excerpts from the judge’s sentencing note:
Ms. Mack, you have pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and one count of racketeering conspiracy, based on conduct including forced labor, extortion, sex trafficking and wire fraud.
You have admitted to having led, as part of your role as “frontline master” in the secret organization DOS, the recruitment of women to join the organization and ask them to serve your “slaves”.
By many accounts, you were able to use your status as a well-known public figure to gain credibility and influence with Nxivm and DOS recruits. You abused this position of power to persuade and pressure women to join DOS. You capitalized on your fame and these people’s eagerness to be close to you, told them you were recruiting them for a ’empowering women’ sisterhood, and twisted and obscured basic facts about the organization and the conditions of membership. You told them Keith Raniere wasn’t involved. You didn’t tell them that they would be forced to behave sexually.
You have asked your “slaves” to provide a “guarantee”, both as a price of admission and on an ongoing basis, to ensure their obedience and secrecy. The collateral you extracted from your “slaves” included explicit photographs and videos, confessions and accusations that could harm them or their loved ones if released, as well as rights to significant financial assets. For example, one victim provided a sexually explicit video, credit card authorizations, a series of letters falsely alleging sexual abuse by a close family member, and the right to a family inheritance. She has explicitly stated that she believed her guarantee would be forfeited and made public if she renounced her commitment to DOS. In other words, you demanded that these women give you the keys to the most intimate, personal and precious parts of themselves, so that you can retain power over them and have leverage to bring them to do whatever you want.
And what did you ask them to do, using your leverage? You have ordered them to submit to extreme food and sleep deprivation and geographic isolation, and to perform unpaid work whenever required, often for your own benefit or gain. You asked them to submit nude photographs of themselves and to be marked on their pubis with a symbol which, unbeknownst to them, included Mr. Raniere’s initials. And in several cases you have ordered your slaves to have sexual contact with Mr. Raniere. You used your influence, your power over these women, to recruit and prepare them as sexual partners for Mr. Raniere, and to force them to engage in sexual acts that – according to their testimony – they did not want and would not like to indulge. are committed voluntarily.
This court, in convicting Mr. Raniere, has made it very clear how seriously it takes the conduct for which he has been convicted. With regard to DOS and the monstrous crimes it committed in connection with this organization, you were an essential accomplice. You have willfully enslaved, destabilized and manipulated other women so that at a time when they were most vulnerable, when they believed that they owed you total obedience and that anything less than it would cause them serious personal harm and financial, when you took away their sense of free will to make their own choices, you gave them “special assignments” to satisfy Mr. Raniere’s sexual interests. Mr. Raniere could not have done this without you. You did this together. The evidence presented at his trial demonstrated that you were not a reluctant or passive facilitator, but rather that you were a willing and proactive ally.
The victims of your conduct have described, through their testimony at Mr. Raniere’s trial and through their letters and statements to the court, the serious psychological and physical injuries they suffered from you. They described your cruelty, your lies and manipulations, your apparent sadistic pleasure in seeing them suffer, and your creative enthusiasm when it came to developing new ways to demean them. they have
describes experiencing psychological trauma as a result of your actions. The court recognizes that for some of them, no sentence other than a severe sentence will seem sufficient, and that no sentence of any length whatsoever can truly repair their trauma.
The gravity of your conduct and the harm you have caused align with the necessity of your sentence and serve as a powerful deterrent – both to you, over the next decades of your life, and to others who may be. tempted to use their privileges and authority. inflict damage and exert control over vulnerable and impressionable people. For all of these reasons, I think a harsh sentence is appropriate.
There are also important mitigating factors, three of which I would like to highlight. First, your lawyers make a compelling case that you, as the victims of your conduct, have been trapped in Mr. Raniere’s coercive and manipulative web. Like your victims, you have provided guarantees in connection with your involvement in DOS. Like your victims, you have been subjected to abusive and unreasonable demands designed to destabilize you and deprive you of your free will. I have no doubt that you have also been manipulated and feel captive as well, even as you inflict these same consequences on other women. In DOS parlance, you were a slave as well as a master, and the wrongs you inflict as a master are, to some extent, exacted from you as a slave of Mr. Raniere. Even the letters from your victims reflect a sort of ambivalence: many of them see you as both their attacker and another victim. It’s something that weighs on me. It is difficult to determine an appropriate sentence for an abuser who is also the victim of his co-conspirator.
Second, you have expressed remorse and contrition and made significant progress in rehabilitating yourself. And I see no reason to doubt that your efforts and progress are genuine. Unlike other individuals who remained respectful to Mr. Raniere even as the artifice of his virtues crumbled, you began the hard work of unraveling the lies and grappling with your guilt and the consequences of your behavior. . I have no doubt that it has been difficult and painful to dispel some of the illusions you have been operating under and to try to see yourself and your behavior with a new kind of clarity. I congratulate you for having had the courage to engage in this work.
Your contrition and ownership over your actions cannot undo the damage you have inflicted, but it is an important and encouraging step towards your own rehabilitation. I urge you to continue this work, during and after your sentence, so that you can better understand for yourself what happened, why it happened, what effects it had and how you can make sure that it does not happen again.
Third, you have assisted the government in its investigation and prosecution. As the government described in its sentencing brief, you began to cooperate with their investigation about a month before Mr. Raniere’s trial. You have provided key details about Mr. Raniere’s role in DOS, including his solicitation of nude photographs and sexual encounters. You have handed over evidence including emails, documents and an audio recording which has become crucial evidence at the trial, in which Mr. Raniere designs the ritual of the DOS mark. According to the government, you were prepared to testify at the trial, although you were not called to do so. The government believes that while you could have been even more helpful if you had started cooperating earlier, you deserve a sentence below the Guidelines range in recognition of the help you have provided.
In light of all this, my task today is to balance the need for a sentence that adequately punishes your serious conduct with the need for a sentence that sustains rather than disrupts your rehabilitation efforts. There will be other chapters in your life after your sentence ends, and the court hopes that you will be ready and able to make the most of those chapters, and that the family and community who have supported you over the years. the past three years will help you continue your rehabilitation work throughout and as you get past your sentence.
I have looked at the range of sentences available and the range suggested by the sentencing guidelines. I have also taken into account the need to avoid unjustified disparities in sentencing between you and other defendants who have been convicted of similar conduct. I have considered my obligation to impose a sentence sufficient but not more than necessary to achieve the objectives of sentencing. I agree with the government, and with your lawyers, that a downward deviation from the guideline range is warranted in this case. A sentence even in the lower end of that range would be much harsher than necessary.
At the same time, for the reasons I have explained, I believe that the nature and consequences of your offense and the need for deterrence justify a severe sentence. While I accept your contrition as sincere and your rehabilitation efforts as genuine, it is impossible to ignore the tremendous wounds you have caused. For this reason, I believe jail time is appropriate.