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Nxivm Founder Rainiere Gets 120 Years, Plans Appeal

The founder of the supposed self-help group Nxivm that prosecutors described as a sex cult was sentenced to 120 years in federal prison, marking an end to a saga that ensnared celebrities and businesspeople, reports the Wall Street Journal. A Brooklyn federal jury convicted Keith Raniere, 60, on charges of racketeering, sex-trafficking, forced labor and wire fraud in June 2019 in a six-week trial featuring evidence of wide-ranging abuse and sexual exploitation of women. Witnesses recounted how women were controlled through severe diets and forced to turn over damaging information, including naked photos and confessions.

Raniere founded Nxivm under the guise of teaching personal empowerment. Prosecutors said he “masqueraded as a self-help guru to gain the trust of his followers, and then exploited them for his own financial gain and sexual gratification.” Raniere maintained his innocence and is “not sorry for his conduct or his choices,” his lawyers said. “We are disappointed in the sentence and will appeal,” said Raniere defense attorney Marc Agnifilo. The case received attention this year after HBO documentary “The Vow” offered a glimpse into the group’s inner-workings. The network plans a second documentary focused on Raniere’s trial next year. Raniere has launched a campaign to overturn the guilty verdict, alleging prosecutorial misconduct and witness intimidation by the government. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied Raniere’s second request for a new trial last week.