NXIVM cofounder and Keith Raniere’s alleged ‘second-in-command’ Nancy Salzman has been sentenced to just three and a half years in prison for her role in the sex cult.
Salzman, 66, was sentenced to 42 months, a $150,000 fine and three years of supervised probation in Brooklyn federal court, New York, Wednesday morning – more than two years after she pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge.
She will not go to prison until January 19 2022 because she is recovering from unidentified medical procedures.
Her daughter Lauren Salzman, who was also a NXIVM cult member and was spared prison at her own sentencing in July, hung her head as the judge announced her mother’s prison term.
NXIVM was founded by Raniere and Salzman as a purported self-help group and multi-level marketing company in Albany, New York, in the 1990s, offering personal improvement and professional development training programs.
In 2015, a number of NXIVM employees entered into a secret society known as Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS) – a sex cult controlled by Raniere.
As part of the secret master/slave club, women were branded, turned into his sex slaves, made to live off just 500 calories a day and forced to make a lifetime vow to obey their ‘masters’.
Salzman has always denied all knowledge of the existence of DOS until it was publicly exposed.
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October 2020 for charges including sex trafficking after being found guilty of turning cult followers into sex slaves and sexually abusing a 15-year-old.
Four other members of the sex cult have also been charged.
NXIVM cofounder and Keith Raniere’s alleged ‘second-in-command’ Nancy Salzman has been sentenced to just three and a half years in prison for her role in the sex cult. Salzman (center is seen leaving court after the sentencing)
Salzman, 66, (leaving court) was sentenced to 42 months, a $150,000 fine and three years of supervised probation in Brooklyn federal court, New York, Wednesday morning
US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis handed down Salzman’s sentencing Wednesday, after several victims delivered their victim impact statements and Salzman gave a tearful apology to the court.
Salzman said she was ‘horrified and ashamed’ of what she had done and claimed she was duped by Raniere into believing he was an ‘oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius’ when in fact he was a ‘narcissistic sociopath’.
‘I am horrified and ashamed that I promoted… him,’ she said, according to NY Daily News.
But several former members of the sex cult painted a picture of Salzman as a master manipulator who helped Raniere control his victims.
Ivy Nevares, a former NXIVM member who testified against Raniere at his trial, urged Garaufis to ‘not let her win’ in an impact statement, which she shared online.
Nevares described herself as ‘a prisoner of Keith Raniere, with Salzman as her prison warden’ as she told how Salzman ‘nearly destroyed me.’
‘Your Honor, please see NXIVM’s second in command through the voice of her victims, not the person she is pretending to be,’ she said.
‘Salzman has the capacity for empathy. However, she uses it to wield her victim’s own empathy against them, playing them to her self-serving interests.
‘She will undoubtedly attempt to do so with the Court today. Please: do not let her win.’
Nancy Salzman in court sketch listening as a former NXIVM member reads out her victim impact statement
Salzman said she was ‘horrified and ashamed’ of what she had done and claimed she was duped by Keith Raniere into believing he was an ‘oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius’ when in fact he was a ‘narcissistic sociopath’
Nevares told the judge this week that she had received a phone call warning her to keep quiet about Salzman.
Judge Garaufis, who spared daughter Lauren from jail time in July, sided with the cult victims, telling Salzman she ‘left trauma and destruction in your wake’ and ‘never rejected’ Raniere.
The 42-month sentence was at the top end of what had been expected for the cofounder and former president of NXIVM. She was expected to get between 33 and 41 months in prison.
Her attorneys had asked the judge that she be spared from any jail time and – at most – be sentenced to two years home confinement.
In a last-ditch attempt for leniency, they wrote in a court filing that she too was a victim of the sex cult leader Raniere who ‘fooled, controlled, humiliated’ her for ‘most of the past 20 years’.
NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere (pictured) was jailed for 120 years last year
Raniere’s initials K.A.R. were tattooed above the bikini lines of the members of the secret master-slave group DOS. Pictured a brand received by a female member
Salzman has shown ‘genuine remorse’ for her part in the cult, was the first member to plead guilty and turn her back on Raniere – helping encourage others to also plead guilty, her attorneys wrote in a court filing.
However, prosecutors said Salzman, who was known as ‘Prefect’ to the cult members, was an enabler for Raniere’s criminal enterprise and helped him gain access to the female victims he controlled.
They said she tried to intimidate Raniere’s critics and should be handed a ‘substantial’ sentence.
‘For years, Nancy Salzman attempted to investigate and intimidate perceived critics and enemies of Raniere,’ they wrote in an earlier filing.
Salzman was the first of five co-defendants of Raniere to enter a guilty plea.
Under the plea, she admitted to conspiring to commit identity theft of NXIVM ‘enemies’ by trying to obtain email addresses and passwords.
She also admitted to editing video footage in order to protect Raniere.
Salzman was once Raniere’s lover and launched NXIVM with him in the 1990s.
She introduced her daughter Lauren, now 45, to Raniere, who then embarked on a long-term relationship with the cult leader.
Lauren was facing nine years behind bars after pleading guilty to charges of racketeering and conspiracy, but was instead sentenced to five years’ probation after her testimony helped put away her ex.
She became a ‘first line’ master in DOS and recruited numerous other women into the secret society.
Following her 2019 arrest, Lauren admitted to locking a young woman in a room and threatening to deport her to Mexico if she did not fulfill her duties to DOS.
Salzman (center) was seen arriving at court Wednesday morning where she gave a tearful apology for her involvement in the sex cult
Nancy salzman watches victim impact statements on a video monitor before the judge handed her a 42 month prison sentence
She also admitted to extorting the recruits by demanding ‘collateral’ in the form of nude photos that could be used as blackmail if they refused orders.
Nancy had written a letter to Judge Garaufis pleading for him to be lenient with her daughter and taking responsibility for her daughter’s part in the cult.
‘I am responsible for Lauren being before you, having endured arrest, prosecution and successful cooperation, and now facing her own judgment,’ she wrote.
Raniere, 60, was found guilty in Brooklyn federal court in June 2019 on charges that included sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking and multiple counts of racketeering – including sexual exploitation of a child, possession of child pornography, extortion and identity theft.
The sexual exploitation count relates to a girl who was just 15 when a 45-year-old Raniere had sex with her and took nude photos of her.
The girl, who is now an adult, and her two sisters also fell pregnant by him and say he forced them to have abortions.
He also punished young women including a teenager who he held in a bedroom for two years as punishment because she had gained weight and shown a romantic interest in another man.
More than a dozen former DOS members testified at his trial that they were branded with Raniere’s initials K.A.R. above their bikini lines in their pubic region with an insignia during a nude ceremony.
The symbol was carved using a cauterizing pen – a medical device used for surgeries to cut through flesh – while the women were held down naked on a table and were given no anaesthetic for the procedure.
Salzman’s daughter Lauren Salzman, 45, was also part of the cult and was spared jail time in July. Lauren is seen leaving court flanked by her lawyer
Smallville actress Alison Mack (pictured at her sentencing in June) was jailed for three years
Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman (left), another prominent cult member, was sentenced to six years in prison in September 2020. Dr Danielle Roberts (right), who branded the women, has never faced any charges
A federal judge sentenced him in October 2020 to spend the rest of his life in prison after 15 of his victims spoke or had victim impact statements read out in court.
Many of the cult members also turned on their leader during their own cases.
Smallville actress Alison Mack, who was a senior member of DOS, was sentenced to three years in prison in June after pleading guilty to sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy in April 2018.
Mack admitted that at Raniere’s direction, she obtained compromising information and images of two unidentified women – called ‘collateral’ within the group – that she threatened to make public if they didn’t perform ‘so-called acts of love.’
Prosecutors also said Mack ordered victims ‘to perform labor, take nude photographs, and in some cases, to engage in sex acts with Raniere.’
Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, another prominent cult member, was sentenced to six years in prison in September 2020 for conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for financial gain, and to fraudulent use of identification.
NXIVM’s longtime accountant Kathy Russell has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and will be sentenced later this year.
Dr Danielle Roberts, who branded the women, has never faced any charges.
A sign outside the now-defunct NXIVM headquarters is seen in Albany, New York
THE NXIVM MEMBERS CHARGED IN SEX CULT CASE
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit identity theft.
Plea: Not Guilty
Verdict: Guilty, all counts
Sentence: 120 years in prison
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit identity theft
Plea: Guilty (plea deal)
Sentence: 81 months in prison and $500,000 fine
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking
Plea: Guilty (plea deal)
Sentence: Three years in prison
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy
Plea: Guilty (plea deal)
Sentence: Awaiting sentencing
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy
Plea: Guilty (plea deal)
Sentence: 5 years probation
Charges: Racketeering conspiracy
Sentence: Three and a half years in prison, $150,000 fine and three years probation