NXIVM leader Keith Raniere forced three sisters he impregnated to get abortions, one of them testified on Tuesday.
The woman, identified by prosecutors only as Daniela, told jurors in Brooklyn federal court she realized she was pregnant in late 2006 and under Raniere’s direction, went to an abortion clinic near the self-help group’s Albany, New York, compound.
It was the same clinic, Daniela said she later learned, to which her older sister had gone two years prior for an abortion following sex with Raniere.
Daniela said her youngest sister had an abortion years later, two days after her 18th birthday.
“I didn’t want to have a baby and I didn’t want to have a baby with Keith,” Daniela said. “He was with a lot of women and he was with my sister and that was was not OK.”
Raniere, 58, is accused of secretly running a sex-cult pyramid scheme that manipulated, scammed, and enslaved its members while publicly promoting NXIVM as a self-help group. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy, child exploitation, and child pornography.
After her abortion, Daniela said he told her the procedure would be a great opportunity to “lose weight because of hormone changes.”
Rainere claimed “Olympic athletes get abortions as part of training,” she said.
Daniela previously testified that Rainere “groomed” her to take her virginity as soon as she turned 18. Throughout her sexual relationship with Raniere, Daniela said they continuously discussed the possibility of her becoming pregnant, and he “had stressed to [her] an abortion would be necessary.”
In 2006, Daniela said she “was feeling different” and decided to walk to a nearby Walgreens for a pregnancy test after realizing she had missed her period for over six months.
“I was never regular to begin with, which Keith knew, but I felt different,” Daniela said.
After learning she was pregnant, she was “nervous to tell Keith,” but was surprised that his response was “calm and collected.” To alleviate her fears about the now impending abortion, Daniela said Raniere told her that her older sister had also gone through the procedure a few years prior.
“I was shocked. I had no idea that Mariana, who was once my best friend, was ever pregnant,” Daniela said. “[Keith] told me that it was no big deal and that he would pay for the abortion.”
Raniere cracked a smile.
A few days later, Daniela said she went to the clinic with Raniere’s longtime girlfriend, Pamela Cafritz. Cafritz, who died in 2016, even crafted up a “cover story” and prepared answers for her to give her family or other NXIVM members for extra precaution.
“Keith didn’t visit me—not once,” Daniela testified, adding that Cafritz was the only one who joined her. “I was all alone. I was all alone throughout the entire process.”
Daniela said Raniere also did not visit her younger sister, Camila, when she became pregnant two years later. Camila began having a sexual relationship with Raniere at 15 but did not have have an abortion until she was an adult.
“I went with Camila to the clinic so she didn’t have to feel like she was alone like I did,” Daniela said. “Now I know that Pam was there to facilitate the abortions and make sure there was no liability for Keith.”
Daniela also testified that Raniere directed her to hack into the email account of the father of a high-level NXIVM member after he called the group a “cult.”
Clare Bronfman was the group’s former operations director and one of its largest donors, heiress to the Seagram Liquor fortune through her father, then-CEO Edgar Bronfman. He thought the group “was a cult,” he told Forbes in 2003 after taking one class by the self-help group.
“After Edgar shifted to the enemy side, which Keith described as people who were out to destroy him and NXIVM, Keith said it would be good to have his email to handle any impending legal battles,” Daniela said.
Brought on by NXIVM as a computer programmer at 16, Daniela said she was enlisted to develop her own malware to “infect” NXIVM’s “targets.”
Daniela said she gave Clare a file to “send to her father that was embedded with software” that would log his keystrokes, allowing them virtually unfettered access to his computer. The first attempt failed, she said, so Raniere suggested Daniela and Clare attempt to hack the computer in person.
“We quickly learned he was not opening the emails Clare sent him and so she visited her father and physically infected the computer locally,” Daniela said. “What Clare did worked and very rapidly I was about to connect and got his access to his AOL account.”
Daniela regularly checked Bronfman’s email for over a year, going through each message and copying the relevant material into a Word document to later show Raniere. Eventually, she stopped checking the account after “suspecting Bronfman knew something was wrong with his account and I got scared.”
“I told Keith I lost access,” she said.
Daniela testified that Raniere also ordered her to hack into her older sister Mariana’s accounts because “she was having issues” and needed help.
“I was told Mariana was having a relationship with one of her ex boyfriends,” Daniela said. “So I was asked to hack into her Facebook and email accounts.”
Daniela said she stressed to Raniere that while she would retrieve the passwords, he had to look into Mariana’s accounts himself.
“Now I feel bad that I contributed to the abuse and the manipulation of my own sister,” Daniela said. “My loyalty was misplaced.”
NXIVM lieutenant Lauren Salzman testified earlier that she kept Daniela in solitary confinement for two years in her bedroom after Raniere accused Daniela of stealing. Daniela returned to Mexico in 2012.