Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, was one of several people arrested Tuesday in connection with NXIVM, a sex cult whose leader has been charged with sex trafficking. Also arrested Tuesday were cult co-founder Nancy Salzman, Salzman’s daughter Lauren, and Kathy Russell. The U.S. District Attorney’s office said that Bronfman was on NXIVM’s executive board. Prosecutors allege that she and cult leader Keith Raniere attempted to obtain email addresses and passwords from perceived enemies in order to monitor their communications. They also claim she sent Raniere emails documenting charges he made on a dead ex-partner’s credit card. Bronfman was accused of attempting to bring someone into the U.S. illegally, as well. “Raniere and Lauren Salzman trafficked a victim, who was once a sexual partner of Raniere’s, for labor and services,” prosecutors charged. “The victim was confined to a room in Clifton Park, New York, for nearly two years as punishment for having romantic feelings for a man who was not Raniere.” After she left the room, Salzman and Raniere sent her to Mexico without any identification, federal attorneys said. Nancy Salzman allegedly altered records in a suit against a former NXIVM student, while Russell and Raniere are also accused of trying to smuggle a woman into the U.S.
In the Upstate New York-based cult, female “masters” recruited “slaves,” who were branded with leader Raniere’s initials, according to the FBI. Smallville actress Allison Mack was charged with sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy in connection with the cult.