A federal judge on Tuesday ordered convicted Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere to pay 17 victims $3.46 million in restitution as part of his 120-year prison sentence for racketeering, sex trafficking, and forced labor crimes, CNN reported.
The restitution payment will go to female victims that were branded with Raniere’s initials in their pelvic areas and to help pay their costs for counseling.
The founder and self-proclaimed “Vanguard” of the Nxivm self-help company, was convicted in 2019 of a series of crimes including forcing women into commercial sexual acts, racketeering and fraud.
The company, described as a “professional business providing educational tools, coaching, and training to corporations and people from all walks of life,” started in Albany, New York in 2018 and catered to executives and members of the Hollywood set, promising to help them overcome fears and shortfalls to being successful.
As of the criminal complaint’s filing in 2018, the organization grew to include centers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, according to legal documents.
The 17 victims were mostly part of a secret female-only group within the cult known as DOS, which coerced members to have sex with Raniere, or send him explicit photos, the report said.
The order was handed down by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who presided over Raniere’s criminal trial.
The judge said that more than 100 victims had submitted some $133 million in claims against Raniere, but he narrowed it down to the 17 victims.
During the trial, the underbelly of the organization was put on display, with members testifying about being “masters” and “slaves,” which included being hit with leather belts during gatherings.
This in addition to 17-hour sessions and members being removed from their friends and families for extended periods of time led to the group being called a “cult,” with Raniere as the messianic leader.
Lauren Salzman, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges in March 2019, said she had been part of the organization for 20 years and served on its executive board.
She told the jury that she had a romantic relationship with Raniere and was recruited into the DOS after it ended.
She also said members had to take a “lifetime vow of obedience.”
“This is a lifetime vow of obedience,” Salzman testified she was told. “(Raniere) would be my master and I would be his slave.”
A civil case against Raniere is currently pending, it was paused until the end of the criminal trial.
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