Mystery Heiress Behind NXIVM Sex Cult Exposed in Graphic Court Docs

Sex slaves. Branding. Blackmail. A new cache of court documents has shed considerable light on the celebrity-riddled Upstate New York cult NXIVM.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

New legal docs in the NXIVM case appear to shed further light on the cult’s alleged sex-trafficking techniques—and the continued involvement of Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman.

Following the arrests of leader Keith Raniere and his alleged top lieutenant, former Smallville actress Allison Mack, Clare Bronfman is now rumored to be calling the shots. In April, Vice wrote that, “Heiress to Canadian liquor fortune Clare Bronfman is now in charge of an estimated dozen or more ‘slaves’ spread between New York and Toronto,” citing former NXIVM publicist-turned-whistleblower Frank Parlato. Parlato also claimed that Bronfman might be attempting to intimidate ex-NXIVM members, telling Vice, “They bought up a number of domain names to attack some of the witnesses… If Jane Doe 1 or 2 decided not to testify, that would certainly hurt the case against Raniere… I think she would do whatever it takes to see that those witnesses don’t testify.”

Parlato’s theory is in keeping with legal docs filed on the subject of Allison Mack’s bail, in which the government spoke of “evidence” that, “after its investigation was reported in the press, high-ranking members of DOS undertook efforts to undermine potential witness, including by registering domain names such as [Witness Name], with the intention of publishing damaging information regarding those witnesses.”

Ex “slaves” would be particularly susceptible to these sorts of threats, since a main instrument of control and retention within DOS, a secret sorority within NXIVM, was demanding “collateral” from victims.

The DOS slaves continued to provide additional collateral beyond what they had initially understood was expected, in part because they feared that the collateral they had already provided would be released.

In a Wednesday filing, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue argued that two Halfmoon, New York, properties are liable to condemnation and forfeiture to the government, detailing the sex trafficking that allegedly took place on the NXIVM compound outside of Albany.

As background, the documents claim that, since founding Executive Success Programs (aka NXIVM) in 1998, “Raniere has maintained a rotating group of fifteen to twenty women with whom he maintains sexual relationships. These women are not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationships with Raniere.”

The filing goes on to elaborate on the structure and practices of DOS, as well as the collateral system, which included “sexually explicit photographs; videos made to look candid in which the prospective slaves told damning stories (true or untrue) about themselves, close friends and/or family members; and letters making damaging accusations (true or untrue) against friends and family members and assigning the rights to certain assets.”

Victims were allegedly pressed for more and more collateral: “In most cases the DOS slaves continued to provide additional collateral beyond what they had initially understood was expected, in part because they feared that the collateral they had already provided would be released.”

One ex-DOS member, Jane Doe 1, who claims she was personally recruited to DOS by Allison Mack, witnessed the Smallville actress’ role in creating “collateral” specifically for Raniere.

“Throughout Jane Doe 1’s time in DOS, Mack regularly required her slaves to pose for nude photographs, either as assignments or collateral,” the filing states. “These photographs included on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas. Jane Doe 1 later learned that Mack was sending these photographs to Raniere, because Jane Doe 1 observed Mack sending these photographs using Mack’s cellphone to someone over a messaging service and then receiving responses which Mack would sometimes relay to her slaves. The responses included that the photographs were not graphic enough or that the slaves were not smiling enough, and that they had to be retaken. On one occasion, Jane Doe 1 saw a text exchange on Mack’s phone between Raniere and Mack, in which Mack sent a nude photo she had just taken of all of the slaves on Jane Doe 1’s level and Raniere wrote back, ‘All mine?’ with a smiling devil emoticon.”

A section titled “Sex Trafficking Within DOS” explains how DOS masters allegedly ordered their slaves to have sex with Raniere, or “groomed” them for this purpose. “By requiring DOS slaves to have sex with Raniere,” the filing continues, “DOS masters also received benefits from Raniere in the form of increased status and financial opportunities within Nxivm more broadly.” Jane Doe 1 relayed how Mack more or less offered her up to Raniere.

According to the court filing, Mack, who had already ordered Jane Doe 1 to be celibate for six months, began assigning contact between her and Raniere. One night, when Doe was staying with Mack at one of the properties in question, the actress woke her up to say that Raniere had arrived to take her on a walk. Mack then told Jane Doe 1 her assignment: “to tell Raniere that Jane Doe 1 would do anything Raniere asked her to do.” The next night the ritual was repeated, with Mack allegedly waking Jane Doe 1 up “to meet Raniere and tell him she would do anything he asked her to do.”

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The legal documents continue, “Jane Doe 1 did as she was assigned, and Raniere led her to a house across the street. Raniere directed her to remove all her clothes and made comments about her naked body. Raniere then blindfolded Jane Doe 1, led her into a car and drove her around in a manner that made Jane Doe 1 believe Raniere was trying to prevent her from knowing where they were going. Raniere led Jane Doe 1, still blindfolded, through some trees, into what she believed was a shack, and tied her to a table. Another person in the room, who Jane Doe 1 did not previously know was present, began performing oral sex on Jane Doe 1 as Raniere circled the table making comments. Jane Doe 1 did not want to participate in this sexual activity, but believed it was part of her commitment to DOS and that if she broke her commitment to DOS her collateral could be released.”

The filing further states that Raniere “had repeated sexual contact with Jane Doe 1, including oral sex and sexual intercourse on a number of occasions” at one of the upstate properties where Raniere allegedly also slept with other DOS “slaves.” Raniere gave Jane Doe 1 money, ostensibly to facilitate her frequent trips from Brooklyn to the compound. When Jane Doe 1 eventually left DOS, Raniere is said to have demanded that she return the money.

The documents also repeatedly mentions an “heiress” who fled to Mexico with Raniere in the wake of The New York Timesbombshell report on DOS.

The heiress, who is described as “a member of Nxivm’s Executive Board,” is allegedly behind the cease-and-desist letters that “several DOS victims have received” from a Mexican attorney. “Emails exchanged between Raniere and the Heiress, obtained pursuant to a search warrant executed on Raniere’s email account, reveal that the Heiress and Raniere orchestrated the sending of those letters,” the filing claims. “Additionally, the Heiress has made multiple attempts to have criminal charges brought against a former DOS slave who has discussed her experience in the media.”

In 2017, Parlato wrote in a Frank Report post that, according to multiple sources, Clare Bronfman has filed a criminal complaint against high-profile DOS defector Sarah Edmondson.

Earlier legal documents have explicitly named Clare Bronfman as Raniere’s financial backer, stating that Bronfman has “paid for numerous lawyers to bring suits against Nxivm critics.”

In a December 2017 post on her website, Bronfman claimed that she was not a member of DOS, but argued that “the sorority has truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely.” She continued, “I find no fault in a group of women (or men for that matter) freely taking a vow of loyalty and friendship with one another to feel safe while pushing back against the fears that have stifled their personal and professional growth.”

This letter is currently featured on the Executive Success Programs website as “a note from our executive board member, Clare Bronfman.”