A multimillionaire heiress to the Seagram liquor empire has been arrested and charged with operating a prison enterprise, as a part of proceedings towards members of the Nxivm “intercourse cult”.
The group garnered headlines for an initiation ritual that reportedly included branding founder Keith Raniere’s initials on ladies, makes an attempt to recruit celebrities, and accusations by prosecutors that members have been was intercourse slaves for Mr Raniere.
Clare Bronfman, 39, a British-educated aspiring Olympic present jumper, was ordered by a choose in Brooklyn to be held below home arrest, on a $100 million bail.
Her lawyer, Susan Necheles, entered a not responsible plea on her behalf.
“Clare Bronfman did nothing unsuitable. Nxivm was not a prison enterprise however as an alternative was a corporation that helped 1000’s of individuals,” she mentioned.
“The costs towards Clare are the results of authorities overreaching and charging a person with crimes simply because the federal government disagrees with some beliefs taught by Nxivm and held by Clare.
“This isn’t how issues needs to be completed in America.
“We’re assured that Clare will probably be exonerated.”
She’s going to seem in court docket once more on Wednesday, earlier than federal Decide Nicholas Garaufis. Additionally showing will probably be her fellow defendants Mr Raniere, arrested in Mexico in March, and Smallville actress Allison Mack, a senior determine within the group, who was detained in April.
They are going to be within the dock together with Miss Bronfman and three extra ladies arrested on Tuesday – co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren, and their bookkeeper, Kathy Russell.
Miss Bronfman’s arrest marks a dramatic flip in her 15-year affiliation with the organisation.
She was first launched to Nxivm, which sells itself as a self-help and empowerment group, by her sister, Sara.
The sisters even managed to persuade their father Edgar to hitch, and he initially praised the group.
He quickly grew disillusioned, nonetheless – reportedly when he learnt that Miss Bronfman had lent the organisation $2 million.
In 2003 he instructed Forbes journal that the organisation was “a cult” and he wished his daughters had by no means acquired concerned.
“I believe it’s a cult,” he mentioned, including that he was troubled in regards to the “emotional and monetary” funding in Nxivm by his daughters, to whom he hadn’t spoken in months.
Miss Bronfman rose by the ranks, and in the summertime of 2010 organised a seven-day celebration of Mr Rainere’s 50th birthday. The retreat, held in upstate New York, value as much as $2,120 and was billed as “the prototype and blueprint for a brand new period of civilized humanity.”
Miss Bronfman, the occasion coordinator, wrote that “the very function of VWeek is to get the possibility to expertise a civilized world… [and] craft for ourselves a extra fulfilling, purposeful life.”
In November of the identical 12 months, Self-importance Honest reported that as a lot as $150 million was taken out of the Bronfmans’ trusts and financial institution accounts and handed over to Nxivm.
The sums included $66 million allegedly used to cowl Mr Raniere’s failed bets within the commodities market, $30 million to purchase property in Los Angeles and round Albany, $11 million for a 22-seat personal airplane, and thousands and thousands extra to help a barrage of lawsuits throughout the nation towards Nxivm’s enemies.
Miss Bronfman’s father died in December 2013, aged 84. Her British mom Georgiana had divorced their father in 1983, and is now married to actor Nigel Havers.
Miss Bronfman, in keeping with the costs introduced on Tuesday, allegedly dedicated id theft of not less than two ladies and illegally introduced one other girl into the nation.
In 2017, Miss Bronfman defended Mr Raniere and Nxivm, calling him “a person devoted to the betterment of the lives of others.”
“There have been many defamatory accusations made and I’ve taken them severely,” she mentioned.
“Figuring out the reality is extraordinarily vital to me, and I can say firmly that neither Nxivm nor Keith have abused or coerced anybody.”
Indictments unsealed on Tuesday additionally added 10 counts of racketeering to the intercourse trafficking costs already pending towards Mr Raniere and Miss Mack, who prosecutors say helped Mr Raniere recruit intercourse slaves.
Miss Mack pleaded not responsible to federal costs of intercourse trafficking and conspiracy to commit compelled labour final month.
Mr Raniere’s attorneys additionally denied the allegations, including that the 57-year-old was being persecuted by the “morality police.”