Princess Elizabeth in NYC for last ditch effort to rescue grandchild from horrific sex cult; Allison Mack arrested
Princess Elizabeth and Catherine Oxenberg are on a desperate mission to rescue India Oxenberg from Nxivm, a sex cult that brands women and uses them as slaves.
UPDATE: Smallville actress Allison Mack has been arrested on suspicion of helping to run sex cult NXIVM, prosecutors have said.
The 35-year-old was arrested on Friday and charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy, according to the office of US Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn.
Mack pleaded not guilty at a brief hearing in federal court in Brooklyn before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak.
She has been accused of recruiting women to join the cult led by Raniere.
According to numerous reports, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and her daughter Catherine Oxenberg are currently in New York in a bid to rescue Catherine's daughter India from the clutches of multi-level marketing organization cum sex cult Nxivm. The 26-year-old India moved to Brooklyn from the Albany area - where the alleged cult is headquartered - to reportedly be closer to its incarcerated leader Keith Raniere.
India is said to have taken up a job at a local vegan and vegetarian restaurant named Plantmade, with the manager of the joint claiming that he was not privy to the information on who she was when he hired her two months ago.
The relationship between India and her mother are frayed at best, with the 26-year-old refusing to talk to her. However, Page Six stated that she did talk to her grandmother Elizabeth, who flew down to the U.S from Serbia in the hopes she can talk some sense into her granddaughter.
However, India is said to be steadfast in her dedication to the disgraced cult leader, with Nxivm's former publicist Frank Parlato saying: "India remains loyal to Raniere, and has vowed to go to prison to protect him. She thinks she’s doing noble things. She told someone, 'I will be like Nelson Mandela.'"
India is not the only celebrity who has been left spellbound by Raniere either. 'Smallville' star Allison Mack is quite possibly the most infamous member of the sex cult and has been accused of being 'second-in-command' to Raniere, helping him lure and recruit further unsuspecting women.
The New York Times' investigative report into how the organization 'branded' women with Raniere's initials seemed to have blown the lid wide open on its unethical and frankly disturbing practices, and since then, further details have trickled out into the public.
Raniere was arrested by the FBI in Mexico on March 27 this past month and subsequently charged with sex-trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. His cult-of-personality and the extent to which he had brainwashed the women in his group was on show for all to see even at the time of his arrest. He was said to have been uncooperative when immigration officials detained him, and as he was being taken away, the women he was staying with, including Allison Mack, 'chased the car in which the defendant was being transported in their own car at high speed.'
But what exactly is going on behind the scenes at Nxivm? From its beginnings as a "community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human," how did it transform itself into its current manifestation? What do we know about this cult that is allegedly sponsored by billionaires, backed by celebrities, and sustained through the hundreds of women who frequently fall prey to it.
Nxivm is based in Albany County, New York, and was founded by Keith Raniere in 1998 as an organization that offers 'personal and professional development seminars.' Indeed, it was very successful at those seminars too. Reportedly 12,000 people attended its classes between 1998 and 2010, and the organization's high point undoubtedly when the 14th Dalai Lama accepted their invitation to speak at the Albany's Palace Theatre in May 2009.
Over the years, it expanded to establish chapters in Canada and Mexico, luring the attention of several notable celebrities, including Richard Branson, as well as actresses Linda Evans, Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk, and Nicki Clyne.
A report by Forbes magazine also stated that 3,700 people took part in its Executive Success Program by 2003, including prominent names such as Sheila Johnson - the co-founder of BET and the first African-American woman to boast of a net worth of $1 billion - Antonia Novello, the former Surgeon General of the United States, Stephen Cooper of Enron, and Ana Cristina Fox, daughter of former Mexican president Vicente Fox.
The report by the New York Times was the beginning of Nxivm's downfall, and the organization would soon begin unraveling at the seams, culminating in Raniere's eventual arrest last month at a Mexican Resort. Sarah Edmonson is the brave woman who came forward to spill Raniere's most closely-guarded secret.
For the past two decades of its existence, Nvixm has paraded itself as a 'self-help group' promising greater self-fulfillment by eliminating psychological and emotional barriers, resulting in unsuspecting women such as Edmonson coming forward in the hopes of becoming a member. But quite often to their dismay, these women find out that the organization is not quite what its made out to be.
Tantalized at the prospect of a new beginning and a much-needed restart, they inquire about admission, and the cases where the woman fits the profile Raniere is looking for, are instead fast-tracked into a secret sorority within the group known as Dominus Obsequious Sororium, a Latin phrase which translates to Master Over the Slave Women.
In the vein of every clickbaity article to have ever plagued the Internet: what you will read next will horrify you. Every prospective recruit is then made to lie down naked on a massage table and informed that they will be getting a tattoo (read branding) as a part of the initiation ritual. A traumatizing 30-minute procedure then involves a female doctor using a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch square symbol consisting of Raniere's initials below each woman's hip.
If there ever a doubt that the organization you're involving yourself was in a cult, look no farther than the monikers given to the top-level officials. The Knights Templar had ranks such as the 'Grand Master,' 'Senechal,' and the 'Turcopolier,' and Nxivm similarly consisted of 'Master,' 'Vanguard,' and 'Prefect.' It should not have come as too much of a surprise as well. The red flags had already cropped up during seminars, where students were required to refer to Keith Raniere and NXIVM President Nancy Salzman as Vanguard and Prefect, respectively.
The women who join DOS are convinced to do so by being fed lies about what the group does. They are told by Raniere, that to become effective, they would have to overcome 'weaknesses' common to women such as their overemotional nature and a failure to keep their promises. Submission and obedience were tools that were used to make the woman embrace the role of the victim, with Edmonson claiming that the group was made out to be a 'bad-ass bitch boot camp.'
The sorority's founder, Raniere, was the only child of a Rockland County ballroom dance instructor, who raised him on her own even though she struggled with heart disease. She died while he was in college but his astounding intellectual capabilities meant he was never short of opportunity. He was not your ordinary genius either. He was listed in the 1989 "Guinness Book of World Records" for being one of three people in an IQ group called Mega, a Mensa-like collection of geniuses requiring a minimum one-in-a-million IQ level.
He had mastered calculus by the age of 12 and often challenged his teachers in class. He left school at the age of 16 because he felt that the curriculum was holding him back, enrolling at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, where he picked up bachelor's degrees in biology, physics, and math, with minors in philosophy and psychology.
In the 90s, he set up an illegal 'chain distributor scheme' called Consumers' Buyline, employing young, aspiring adults who were willing to work late hours under the impression that they were a part of something special and different. In 1996, he admitted no guilt but signed an agreement with the New York State Attorney General's Office promising he would no longer operate the scheme and agreed to pay a $40,000 settlement.
Then came Nxivm. It was a way for him to preach his philosophies which were a mix of science and self-improvement - which were often branded with catchy labels such as 'The Science of Joy,' 'Rational Inquiry' and 'Metatheory' - but also a way for him to fade into the background and avoid the attention of the attorney generals and the Securities and Exchange Commission which had grown suspicious of his practices.
With the establishment of Nxivm, Raniere went through a sort of a personal transformation. He began speaking in a guru-like manner, growing his hair and beard out in a Lennon-esque fashion and portrayed himself as a sort of a new-age messiah. Several women, either through fear or genuine reverence, describe Raniere as warm, funny, and eager to talk about subjects that interested them. But others are not so sure about him or his organization.
Nxivm relentlessly hounds and goes after former members who they claim are stealing their exclusive, copyrighted content. In 2003, they sued the Ross Institute for alleged copyright infringement for publishing excerpts of content from its manual in three critical articles commissioned by investigator Rick Alan Ross on his website. Ross had posted a psychiatrist's assessment of Nxivm's 'secret manual,' calling it 'expensive brainwashing.' It seems as though he had the right of it close to 15 years before the Times got wind of the illicit activities behind the scenes.
Those reports are not too far-fetched either, especially considering the numerous reports which state that the women were constantly directed to find more slaves for DOS. Failing to do so would result in penalties, which included fasting and physical punishments. And arguably no one was more complicit, nor more of a victim to Raniere's God-complex than Allison Mack.
Mack is a key recruiter for DOS. Emails given to the Sun reveal the unsettling and abusive regime that these prospective slaves are put through. They are told to fast 12 hours a day: the emails instruct the women to refrain from eating for "12 hours from the last time you have anything other than water w. lemon or black tea w. lemon + honey (sparkling water is OK)." The followers must also take only cold showers to 'build capacity for love through tolerance of pain,' and perform a 'daily act to honor their master.' Disobedience meant a beating with paddles.
The emails also reveal why it was so difficult for the victims to come out with their story. Followers are told to provide a new piece of 'collateral' - blackmail-worthy material such as nude pictures, videotaped confessions to crimes or financial information - at the start of each month to prove their loyalty. If the member leaves the group and tells the tale of its secrets to an outsider, the organization has the right to publish these secrets.
A screenshot provided to the Sun consists of a list of the slaves. Mack's name is at the top with a designation of 'owner,' with India Oxenberg and Danielle Roberts the other stand-out names. And while Mack's designation is 'owner,' she was described by Parlato as both, a victim and perpetrator. She had to follow every single one of Raniere's orders. This included finding him partners to bed, recruiting women to the cult, running 40 miles a week, and keeping a strict 500 to 800 calorie a day diet to stay as skinny as possible, exactly to Raniere's liking.
Her popularity and celebrity status were used to attract a younger age group of women into the cult. While her job is to get women for Raniere to have sex with, women who escaped the cult claim that Mack got jealous of them for doing so because she wanted to be with him herself; giving credence to the claim that she was one of the women in the car that chased Raniere's vehicle after his capture in Mexico.
NXIVM is primarily funded by the heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman, the daughters of billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman, Edgar Bronfman Sr. Both sisters were drawn in by the organization's executive-success workshops and soon became committed followers of Raniere, relocating to upstate New York to work as NXIVM trainers.
According to a report by Vanity Fair, Raniere has made use of over $150 million of Bronfman's fortune, with the money primarily used to keep the slaves, brand them, and blackmail them to ensure no information reaches the public.
Parlato, a Buffalo-area businessman, was the one to initially spill the secret of the sorority on his website frankreport.com. In 2011, he was sued by the Bronfman sisters for allegedly defrauding them of $1 million after they had hired him as a consultant. He was indicted on charges of fraud and other crimes by the Justice Department in 2015. Since then, he has been publicly lambasting the sisters and Raniere, publishing a tell-all article titled 'Branded Slaves and Master Raniere' in June 2017.
If the reaction of some his most crazed followers is anything to go by, the man described as a 'compulsive gambler, a sex addict with bizarre desires and needs, and a con man that specializes in Ponzi schemes' is unlikely to go away easily. But if he does, expect to feel a gale rustle your hair as hundreds of his victims around the country breathe a collective sigh of relief.