NEW YORK (AP) – The unrepentant former leader of the cult-like NXIVM group was ordered Tuesday to pay $ 3.5 million to 21 victims of a sex trafficking scheme, a sum including the cost of the surgical removal of scars from trademark rituals performed by a secret sorority.
The marks depicting Keith Raniere’s initials were meant to symbolize the status of women as sex slaves for the self-help guru who once had an international following. A Brooklyn federal court judge also ordered Raniere to return “guarantees” – nude photos and other potentially embarrassing documents – that were used to extort and manipulate the victims.
Raniere, appearing on video from an Arizona jail, told the judge he was baffled by the restitution order.
“I never dealt with a guarantee,” he said. “I do not know.”
He added at another point: “I don’t know who the victims are.
Raniere – known to members of the organization in upstate New York as “Vanguard” and “the smartest man in the world” – was sentenced last year to 120 years in prison for his conviction for racketeering conspiracy and other charges. This was another case where he refused to take responsibility.
“I believe I am innocent of the charges. … It is true that I have no remorse for the crimes that I do not believe I have committed at all, ”he said.
A 41-year-old heiress to the Seagram’s fortune, Clare Bronfman, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in September for her role as Raniere’s unwavering benefactor, while another follower, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, was sentenced to three years the last time. month.
It was not clear whether Raniere could afford restitution which is also intended to cover the costs of mental health treatment and unpaid labor. Bronfman paid his legal bills.
Tuesday’s hearing was brought to a halt towards the end when one of Raniere’s attorneys, Marc Fernich, lambasted U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis for not allowing a delay in the proceedings so Fernich could attend court. funeral.
“It is a lack of human decency and it is shameful,” said the lawyer.
The judge, who said the schedule gave Fernich enough time to attend, sat for half an hour in stony silence until the lawyer apologized.
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