Keith Raniere, the leader of the former NXIVM cult, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on October 27, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
The 60-year-old who styled himself as a self-help guru as cover for his sex trafficking cult was found guilty on charges ranging from trafficking to wire fraud. His sentence was handed down after 15 of the cult's victims read statements, in front of a courtroom that included Raniere, onlookers and the members of NXIVM who still support their disgraced leader.
NXIVM was founded by Raniere in 1998, and functioned outwardly as a multi-level marketing company built around self-help and personal improvement products. The framework was found to be a cover for a small sect within NXIVM called DOS, that was made up of women who were controlled by Raniere. The women were forced to follow strict diets, were branded with Raniere's initials and were trafficked. The scheme rattled around the rich and famous in Hollywood with actors, actresses and their children becoming members.
Allegations that NXIVM was a cult began in the 2000s, but the dam broke after Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson went public with her experience of DOS. News outlets and investigative reporters converged on the cult, uncovering all that they could about the pyramid scheme and its sinister core. Raniere was arrested in 2018 and convicted in June of this year.
Earlier this month, Raniere maintained his innocence in an interview with Dateline.
"You know, one of the things that’s most important in our country is the justice system," he said. "I am innocent. And 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."