The New York Times reports that the 41-year-old was the first defendant to be sentenced in the investigation. NXIVM masqueraded as a personal development program, which pretended to help people reach their personal goals with “executive success” programs.
Bronfman first joined the purported self-help group in 2003, when she was trying to cope with social anxiety and attempting to come to terms with her identity as the daughter of a well-known billionaire. According to court papers, NXIVM provided her with purpose.
Over the next 15 years, she moved up to the group’s executive board, while NXIVM was being denounced as an abusive cult that compelled women into sexual slavery. But Bronfman used her considerable fortune to silence the alleged cult's naysayers.
During a hearing on Wednesday, nine victims discussed how Bronfman devastated their lives, with some describing how the heiress continually sued them and even had local prosecutors file criminal charges against them. Several of the women urged Bronfman to condemn the group’s leader, Keith Raniere after she previously told a judge that she still believed in him.
Last June, Raniere was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, fraud, and other crimes. Prior to his trial, Bronfman and four other higher-ups pleaded guilty, including recruiter and former Smallville actress Allison Mack.
Bronfman pled guilty to two charges in connection to identity theft and immigration fraud. Prosecutors contend that Raniere couldn’t have committed his crimes without access to Bronfman, who spent at least $116 million on the organization, paying for lawsuits and securing patents for Raniere’s inventions. She also used that wealth and influence to threaten anyone who tried to leave or criticize the group.
NXIVM became known as a sex cult after trial testimony revealed that Raniere was recruiting women to be his sexual partners.