Canadian Seagram heiresses Clare, left, and sister Sara Bronfman. Picture: NXIVM
Canadian Seagram heiresses Clare, left, and sister Sara Bronfman. Picture: NXIVM

Billionaire heiress arrested over ‘sex cult’

US AUTHORITIES have busted four more people for their alleged roles in a New York sex cult NXIVM​ ​ - including Seagram's liquor heiress Clare Bronfman.

The New York Post reports that the cult's co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter, Lauren, were arrested​ in upstate New York, as was Kathy Russell, a longtime bookkeeper for the organisation that bills itself as a self-help group.

Nancy Salzman and daughter, Lauren Salzman, were arrested. Picture: NXIVM
Nancy Salzman and daughter, Lauren Salzman, were arrested. Picture: NXIVM

All four women are expected to be arraigned on charges of racketeering conspiracy later today in Albany and Brooklyn federal courts​.

Canadian Seagram heiresses Clare, left, was arrested. Picture: NXIVM
Canadian Seagram heiresses Clare, left, was arrested. Picture: NXIVM

The arrests are part of an ongoing federal investigation into the group, its leader Keith Raniere and his right hand woman, former ​Smallville​ star Allison Mack.

Raniere and Mack are charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy for allegedly coercing women into joining a secretive master-slave group within NXIVM - where "slaves" were forced to pleasure Raniere, have his initials permanently branded onto their skin and perform free labour.

Kristin Kreuk and Allison Mack starred together in Smallville. Picture: Supplied
Kristin Kreuk and Allison Mack starred together in Smallville. Picture: Supplied

Ms Bronfman - who used her fortune to bankroll the group - Ms Russel and Ms Salzman are variously accused of participating in identity theft, money laundering, and altering records to facilitate the enterprise.

Lauren Salzman - who's been accused by former "slaves" of being one of the "masters" in the group - is alleged to have committed forced labour, extortion and wire fraud.

Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack. Picture: Instagram
Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack. Picture: Instagram

Clare Bronfman's sister, Sara, was also reported to be bankrolling NXIVM, but was not arrested.

Raniere, a former Amway salesman and multi-level marketing schemer, founded NXIVM - originally called Executive Success Program - in the late 1990s with Nancy Salzman, a nurse trained in hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming.

Allison Mack has allegedly been brainwashed by cult leader Keith Raniere. Picture: Keith Raniere Conversations/Youtube
Allison Mack has allegedly been brainwashed by cult leader Keith Raniere. Picture: Keith Raniere Conversations/Youtube

Members of the group - which ostensibly runs personal and professional development workshops - call Raniere "Vanguard" and Ms Salzman "Prefect."

In 2007, Ms Salzman created a non-profit within NXIVM called the Ethical Science Foundation, which was being probed by the New York Attorney-General for doing bizarre brain-activity studies with no oversight.

That probe has been suspended for the federal case, according to the Albany Times Union.

The mark that some of the NXIVM members were branded with. Picture: Supplied
The mark that some of the NXIVM members were branded with. Picture: Supplied

From the beginning of NXIVM, prosecutors allege that Raniere kept "a rotating group of 15 to 20 women" from the group as his personal harem - and gradually introduced his perverse ideas into the organisation, including sessions where women "wear fake cow udders over their breasts while people called them derogatory names."

But in 2015, things got seriously twisted when he created a secret master-slave "sorority" within NXIVM called "The Vow," prosecutors allege.

Actress Allison Mack arrives for a bail hearing in relation to the sex trafficking charges filed against her. Picture: Getty
Actress Allison Mack arrives for a bail hearing in relation to the sex trafficking charges filed against her. Picture: Getty

When slaves went public with their experiences last year and the feds started closing in, Raniere fled to a luxury villa in Mexico with the help of Ms Bronfman's money, prosecutors allege.

Raniere was arrested there in March, and Mack was arrested a month later.

Battlestar Galactica star Nicki Clyne and Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg's daughter, India, were also recruited into NXIVM.

Mack's Smallville co-star Kristin Kreuk was a member of the program early-on but released a statement saying she knew nothing of The Vow and left many years ago.

In a now-deleted post on one of the group's websites, Ms Bronfman defended Raniere and said that, while she was not a member of the Vow, it "has not coerced nor abused anyone."

"In fact, the sorority has truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely. I find no fault in a group of women (or men for that matter) freely taking a vow of loyalty and friendship with one another to feel safe while pushing back against the fears that have stifled their personal and professional growth," she wrote.

Allison Mack and Nicki Clyne reportedly got married
Allison Mack and Nicki Clyne reportedly got married

Ms Bronfman faces 20 years behind bars and has hired high-powered lawyer Susan Necheles to represent her.

Necheles didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Ms Russell's lawyer declined to comment. Ms Salzman's lawyer couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

 

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission


Building bonds in club

Building bonds in club

Focus on family, mentoring.

Motel owners retire after two decades

Motel owners retire after two decades

They ran a local motel for 23 years.

Just not enough rain

Just not enough rain

Need more to help stock.