The doctor who branded NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere’s initials into women’s bikini lines has defended the ritual by claiming they ‘wanted’ to have it done.
Dr Danielle Roberts spoke out in a new Dateline special and insisted that the women she branded, who were members of a secret master-slave group within NXIVM known as DOS, were not ‘harmed’.
‘These women wanted this, they asked for this,’ Roberts said in a preview for the episode airing Friday. ‘You know, I mean and I understand now that narrative has changed and they’re saying other things.
‘I think pain and harm are two different things. You know, I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this.’
‘They said they wanted it. They were laughing,’ she added.
Roberts, who has never faced any charges but did have her medical license brought under review for her involvement in NXIVM, also said she wasn’t acting as a physician when she cauterized the women’s skin with a branding pen, leaving behind the letters K.A.R.
‘They had no idea who the branding technician was going to be, you know? There was no patient-physician relationship,’ she said.
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Danielle Roberts, the doctor who branded NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere’s initials into women’s bikini lines, defended the sick ritual by claiming they ‘wanted’ to have it done
Roberts also said she wasn’t acting as a physician when she cauterized the women’s skin with a branding pen, leaving behind the letters K.A.R. (pictured)
Roberts is pictured with several women during an NXIVM retreat in Fiji in 2014 that was presented by prosecutors during Raniere’s trial on sex trafficking and racketeering charges
During Raniere’s 2019 trial in Brooklyn federal court, more than a dozen former DOS members testified about how they were branded in their pubic region with an insignia during a nude ceremony.
One witness, former DOS slave-master Lauren Salzman, described the branding as ‘the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced’.
Prosecutors presented audio of Raniere and his alleged second-in-command, Smallville actress Allison Mack, planning the ceremonies in January 2017.
Raniere was heard saying that he wanted the women to recite an oath during the service.
‘The person should also ask to be branded,’ he said. ‘Master please brand me. It would be an honor, and an honor I want to wear for the rest of my life. Although my body may be burned or tortured or whatever, my love is stronger.’
‘They should probably say that before they’re held down so it doesn’t seem like they’re being coerced,’ he added.
Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October after a jury found him guilty of seven charges including sex trafficking and racketeering. All charges were linked to DOS
Roberts (left and right) has never faced any charges but did have her medical license brought under review for her involvement in NXIVM
Roberts is pictured (left) with fellow NXIVM members Nicki Clyne (left) ,Michelle Hatchette (second left) and Linda Chung (center) after Raniere’s sentencing hearing in October
Raniere also said that he wanted the ceremonies to resemble a human sacrifice ritual.
‘Do you think the person who’s being branded should be completely nude and held to the table, almost like a sacrifice?’ he asked Mack in the recording.
‘That’s a feeling of submission. Laying on the back, legs spread straight, held to the table. Hands above the head, probably held, almost like sacrificial.’
Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October after a jury found him guilty of seven charges including sex trafficking and racketeering. All charges were linked to DOS.
Mack, 38, was also charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy in April 2018. She pleaded guilty and is out on house arrest while awaiting sentencing, where she faces up to 40 years in prison.
During Raniere’s 2019 trial prosecutors presented audio of him and his alleged second-in-command, Smallville actress Allison Mack, planning the branding ceremonies in January 2017. Mack (right) is pictured with NXIVM member Nicki Clyne (left)
Raniere founded NXIVM in Albany, New York, in 1998 and between then and 2017, recruited more than 17,000 people to it, promising them self-help.
Women in DOS were branded with his initials, starved, sleep deprived and forced to engage in group sex and blackmailed with ‘collateral’ they had provided in the form of incriminating photos, videos or information about them or their families.
Raniere also punished young women including a teenager who prosecutors said he held in a room for two years as punishment because she’d shown a romantic interest in another man.
He spoke out for the first time since his arrest in an interview with NBC News in October, before he was sentenced.
‘I apologize for my participation in all of this pain and suffering. I’ve clearly participated. I’ve been the leader of the community,’ he said.
But he added: ‘Yes, I am innocent.
‘Although it is, this is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt, I think the main thrust of this has been the oppression but really a different issue, which is hard for me to express.
‘There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I’m the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined.’
After his sentencing Raniere expressed fears for his life while he sat in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting transfer to a maximum security prison.