Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman vows to stand by NXIVM sex cult founder Keith Raniere saying he ‘greatly changed my life for the better’ as she faces up to 27 months in prison
- Bronfman, 41, refused to disavow NXIVM and cult leader Raniere, 60, in an August 28 letter to a New York federal judge ahead of her sentencing this month
- She wrote how they helped her overcome her ‘shortcomings’ and ‘self-hate’
- Bronfman is believed to have used her family fortune to bankroll the cult
- She pleaded guilty back in April 2019 to conspiring to conceal and harbor illegal immigrants for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification
- Bronfman claims she was ‘never told about anything sexual or damaging of any nature’ and other members have also said she was not involved in DOS
- NXIVM started out as a purported self-help group in Albany, New York
- Members were then turned into sex slaves, made to live off just 500 calories a day and branded with Raniere’s initials as part of secret master/slave club DOS
- Raniere was found guilty in 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking and racketeering charges including child sexual exploitation
Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman has vowed to stand by NXIVM sex cult founder Keith Raniere saying he ‘greatly changed my life for the better’ as she faces up to 27 months in prison for her part in the organization.
Bronfman, 41, sent a letter to a New York federal judge ahead of her sentencing this month, describing how Raniere and NXIVM helped her overcome her ‘shortcomings’ and refusing to disavow them despite her family believing she should.
Bronfman, who is believed to have used her family fortune to bankroll the cult, pleaded guilty back in April 2019 to conspiring to conceal and harbor illegal immigrants for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification.
NXIVM started out as a purported self-help group in Albany, New York, before members were turned into sex slaves, made to live off just 500 calories a day, and branded with Raniere’s initials.
Raniere, 60, dubbed ‘Vanguard’ within the cult, is currently in jail awaiting his October sentencing, having been found guilty in June 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking and multiple counts of racketeering – including sexual exploitation of a child, possession of child pornography, extortion and identity theft.
Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman (pictured) has vowed to stand by NXIVM sex cult founder Keith Raniere saying he ‘greatly changed my life for the better’ as she faces up to 27 months in prison for her part in the organization. Bronfman leaving court in 2018
Bronfman pledged her continued loyalty to the cult and its leader in a letter to the judge dated August 28.
‘Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and NXIVM, and that I have not is hard for them to understand or accept,’ Bronfman wrote, according to Times Union.
‘NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better. Most of my teenage years and early 20s, I was ashamed of who I was, constantly focused on my shortcomings and ridden with self-hate.
‘NXIVM changed that. I learned a sense of who I am beyond my faults and the tools of how to transform things I didn’t like about myself into traits and behaviors I do. I started to embrace myself and turn outwardly to care for and help others.’
Bronfman, heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, also heaped praise on other ‘members of the community’.
‘Through my many years with NXIVM, I started to enjoy life, to feel accepted, loved and happy,’ Bronfman wrote.
‘Subsequently, many members of the community became like family to me and I cannot find it in me to now turn my back on those friendships, nor deny how profoundly Keith and NXIVM impacted my life.
‘Even though some of them have now been labeled as bad for remaining friends, I experience them as some of the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned people I know.’
NXIVM started out as a purported self-help group in Albany, New York, before members were turned into sex slaves, made to live off just 500 calories a day, and branded with Raniere’s initials. Pictured cult leader Keith Raniere
Bronfman and her older sister Sara Bronfman-Igtet, the daughters of late liquor business billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr., joined the cult through the group’s ‘Executive Success Program’ workshops.
Their father also attended a class and grew concerned his daughters were joining a cult – leading Raniere to cite him as an enemy of NXIVM.
Raniere founded NXIVM – pronounced NEHK-see-uhm – in the 1990s as a self-help organization, offering personal improvement and professional development training programs.
In 2015, he then formed Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS) – a secret master/slave club where women were branded, turned into his sex slaves, given restricted diets and forced to make a lifetime vow to obey their ‘masters’.
The cult is also accused of forcing victims to undergo illegal human experiments.
A lawsuit filed in January also claims the self-improvement group was a pyramid scheme that swindled millions of dollars out of its victims based on false scientific claims such as that it could cure medical conditions like Tourette’s syndrome and OCD.
At least 40 members of the cult have also claimed they were part of a ‘human fright experiment’ in which electrodes were used on their heads to measure brainwaves, according to the lawsuit.
The members believed they were going to be watching Raniere speak but were actually shown graphic footage or five women being beheaded and dismembered in Mexico.
Many who participated in the courses were left traumatized and broke, according to the lawsuit.
The NXIVM Executive Success Programs sign outside of the office at 455 New Karner Road on April 26, 2018 in Albany, New York
Some plaintiffs claim they were recruited as sex slaves and were forced to have Raniere’s initials, K A R, branded on their bodies (pictured)
Other well-known members of NXIVM include actress Nicki Clyne of ‘Battlestar Gallactica’; actress Allison Mack of TV’s ‘Smallville’; an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, Clare Bronfman; India Oxenberg, daughter of TV star Catherine Oxenberg of ‘Dynasty’ fame; and physician Danielle Roberts.
Bronfman is widely believed to be the financial muscle behind the operation, using her family’s liquor fortune to bankroll the cult and to help Raniere bring an illegal immigrant into the US.
Bronfman has denied any involvement in the sex slave arm of the cult saying she was ‘never told about anything sexual or damaging of any nature’.
Other members have also written to the judge insisting she was not involved in DOS.
Bronfman, 41, is believed to have used her family fortune to bankroll the cult
‘It is direly important that you know that, to my knowledge, Clare knew nothing about DOS, not even about its existence,’ wrote Roberts, who allegedly used a cauterizing pen to brand the women with the cult leader’s initials.
‘I am uniquely qualified to know this because: I was in DOS and I have had many conversations with the first line DOS members about DOS – none of which involved Clare.’
Clyne, who the trial revealed was one of eight DOS ‘first-line slaves’ answering directly to Raniere, defended Bronfman as one of the ‘sweetest’ souls.
‘From the bottom of my heart, Clare is one of the sweetest, most earnest and compassionate souls you will ever meet and I sincerely hope you consider how much she has already endured as an effect of her charges and the hate campaign against her and other people who were part of NXIVM,’ Clyne wrote to the judge.
Bronfman’s attorney Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. has asked the judge to give her three years probation, saying Bronfman believed the cult was ‘doing good in the world’.
‘Clare’s culpability, with respect to the criminal conduct alleged against her co-defendants, is no different than the dozens of other sophisticated professionals who believed that Keith Raniere and NXIVM were doing good in the world,’ Sullivan Jr. wrote.
Actresses Nicki Clyne (left ) and Allison Mack were also members of the cult
However, prosecutors allege Bronfman said she tried to hire a PR firm to ‘rebrand’ DOS after it was exposed by some of its victims and that she had her lawyers write letters to some of the victims who spoke out about the goings-on telling them to ‘cease-and-desist’.
Senior US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis dismissed the idea Bronfman wasn’t involved in the group’s criminal operations at a pre-sentencing hearing last Tuesday.
‘Excuse me – I’m not new to this party, sir,’ he said.
‘She was writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars for this enterprise. You’re claiming she wasn’t a party to the criminal enterprise. She was writing a lot of checks.’
Bronfman will be sentenced in US District Court in Brooklyn on September 30.
She faces between 21 and 27 months in prison.
Raniere will be sentenced on October 27.
He was arrested at a Mexican hideout in 2018 following an investigation into the group.
Several cult followers have danced outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where he is being held in a show of support for their leader and ‘master’.