'Sex slave guru who branded victims' nabbed in Mexico

2018-03-27 15:43

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - An American "self-help" guru, who presided over a secretive society of women sex slaves branded with his initials, is due in court on Tuesday, five months after fleeing to Mexico.

Keith Raniere, 57, from Waterford, New York, is known as "The Vanguard".

He is charged with sex trafficking and conspiracies that could see him jailed for between 15 years and life if convicted, US prosecutors said on Monday.

The FBI and Mexican police tracked him down on Sunday at a luxury villa on the Pacific coast, following his escape to Mexico with an unnamed heiress after The New York Times exposed the organisation last October.

He is due to appear in a Texas court on Tuesday.

'A disgusting abuse of power'

FBI senior official William Sweeney accused Raniere of displaying "a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves".

The case involved "serious crimes against humanity", said Sweeney, "and we are putting an end to this torture today".

Raniere set up supposed self-help workshops called "Executive Success Programmes" in 1998, whose umbrella organisation Nxivm has operated in Canada, Mexico, South America and the United States, and recruited in Brooklyn, officials said.

Participants paid up to $5 000 for a five-day workshop with members often required to sign non-disclosure agreements, US prosecutors said.

Each August, they also paid $2 000 to gather in the New York lakeside hamlet of Silver Bay to honour Raniere for his birthday.

Carrying on poly-amorous relations from the start, in 2015 he is accused of creating a secret society called "DOS" – a pyramid scheme of women "slaves" and "masters" with Raniere – the sole man – alone at the top.

Members were allegedly told that they would be empowered, but were instead treated as slaves – branded with Raniere's initials on their pelvic areas while being pinned down naked and filmed at initiation ceremonies.

As a pre-condition of joining, women allegedly had to provide "collateral" such as damaging information about friends and family, nude photographs and rights to their assets, which they feared they would lose if they did not have sex.

Some were forced onto low-calorie diets as Raniere preferred exceptionally thin women, and none were allowed to sleep with anyone but him, prosecutors said.

Slaves were also required to fetch coffee and groceries, make lunch and clean the houses of their "masters", officials alleged.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    us  |  mexico

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.