NXIVM founder Keith Raniere has apologized for his ‘participation in pain and suffering’ though he says he is innocent as he blasted the legal system for a ‘horrible injustice’ while acknowledging that people think he’s ‘the devil.’
The 60-year-old cult leader due to be sentenced to federal prison next week for keeping women as sex slaves broke his silence on Friday for the first time since his arrest two years ago.
‘I apologize for my participation in all of this pain and suffering,’ he told NBC News on Friday.
‘I’ve clearly participated. I’ve been the leader of the community.’
Raniere was convicted last year on multiple counts of sex-trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering after he was accused of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Keith Raniere, 60, the leader of the NVIXM cult, spoke out for the first time on Friday, telling NBC News that he is ‘innocent’ though he did apologize for the ‘participation in pain and suffering’ of his victims
Keith Raniere, 60, is due to be sentenced on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court after he was convicted on sex trafficking and racketeering charges. He is pictured above in a court sketch from last year
One of Raniere’s former adherents, Frank Parlato, worked as a spokesperson for NXIVM. But when Parlato grew disillusioned with some of the organization’s darker aspects, he wrote about it in his blog, The Frank Report, helping bring down NVIXM. In a dramatic telephone conversation, Raniere spoke to Parlato. The chat was filmed by NBC News.
On Friday, he proclaimed his innocence, claiming that he was railroaded by the criminal justice system.
‘You know, one of the things that’s most important in our country is the justice system,’ Raniere told NBC News.
‘And although, you know, people can hate me and, do, and think I’m an odious type of a character, you know, awful actually.
‘Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system.’
One of Raniere’s former adherents, Frank Parlato, worked as a spokesperson for NXIVM.
But when Parlato grew disillusioned with some of the organization’s darker aspects, he wrote about it in his blog, The Frank Report.
Parlato, who was featured prominently in the HBO documentary The Vow, is credited with helping bring down NVIXM.
In a dramatic telephone conversation, Raniere spoke to Parlato. The chat was filmed by NBC News.
When Parlato asked Raniere if he plans on making a statement to Brooklyn federal court at his sentencing on Tuesday, Raniere said: ‘Yes, 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.’
At his sentencing on Tuesday, the judge is expected to take into consideration impact statements from more than 100 victims.
Catherine Oxenberg, the actress and mother of India Riven Oxenberg, is one of Raniere’s victims. Both she and her daughter were NVIXM members
India Oxenberg said Allison Mack recruited her to become her slave when he was ‘vulnerable’ then controlled her life, including what she ate, when they were in NXIVM. Mack is shown, right, at court. She is in jail now sex trafficking charges
Catherine Oxenberg, the actress and mother of India Riven Oxenberg, said her daughter was one of Raniere’s victims.
Both she and her daughter were NVIXM members.
‘Really these young women, without being aware, were on this runaway rollercoaster to hell,’ Catherine Oxenberg told NBC News.
‘And they were completely unaware. And that’s where Keith Raniere was taking them, like, to hell.’
Last week, India Oxenberg revealed that fellow actress Allison Mack was her ‘master’ in NXIVM and controlled when and how much she ate.
Oxenberg, 29, told Good Morning America last Wednesday that Mack would limit her calorie intake.
She also told how she cooperated with prosecutors for nine months to put Keith Raniere, the cult leader, behind bars, and gave them a flashdrive that contained incriminating evidence against him.
‘It was an abusive dynamic just by the sheer fact that she had control over me. She did it strategically. She knew that I was in a vulnerable place in my life and I was desperate for something and she targeted me for that,’ India said.
Raniere started NXIVM in the 1990s in upstate New York as a self-improvement group that expanded across the country.
Keith Raniere is in jail awaiting sentencing on a range of charges including child sex trafficking and child porn. The branding of his initials that members received is shown, right
Prosecutors allege that Raniere started a secret branch, known as the DOS, in about 2015 that was just for women.
Prosecutors say the secret society was comprised of brainwashed female ‘slaves’ who were branded with his initials and forced to have sex with him.
His adherents included Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress Clare Bronfman.
Both women have pleaded guilty to assisting the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
Last month, five members of the alleged sex cult said they believe their former self-improvement leader was wrongly convicted and deny that NVIXM was cult-like.
In an interview with CBS News, they refused to say whether they were branded with Raniere’s initials or whether they had had sex with the former leader.