Nxivm, a secretive self-help group is being accused of being a cult that is holding some of it's members in a sex slavery ring run by former 'Smallville' actress Allison Mack.
A few people have come forward to speak out against a secret sex cult operating inside a popular self-help program.
Sarah Edmonson left Nxivm after she was unwittingly initiated into a sorority run by a top official of the company, Lauren Salzman
Edmonson was told that a select group of women in the Nxivm were coming together. "To gain admission, they were required to give their recruiter naked photographs or other compromising material and were warned that such “collateral” might be publicly released if the group’s existence were disclosed reports the New York Times.
Sarah was told she would get a small tattoo as part of the initiation. Instead, she was told to undress and lie on a massage table, while three others restrained her legs and shoulders. Salzman, instructed them to say: “Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.”
For almost 30 minutes, Salzman used a cauterizing device to brand a symbol on Edmonson's pelvis.
What the heck is happening here?
Nxivm, also known as Executive Success Programs, was founded in 1998 by boy-genius Keith Raniere. The program has had many high-profile followers.
These include "Sheila Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television; A former U.S. surgeon general; a chief executive of Enron; the heirs to the Seagram's fortune; and two children of former presidents of Mexico.
Keith's intelligence as a young man was remarkable. The Albany Times-Union reports Raniere mastered calculus by age 12 and exhausted the public school's curriculum. At age 16, he enrolled in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earned bachelor's degrees in biology, physics and math, with minors in philosophy and psychology.
Keith's incredible intellect propelled him to his first success. Keith has also been described as a charismatic speaker and engaging listener.
Raniere's first company, Consumer's Buy Line, sold everything from groceries, appliances, and vacations at deep discounts, but the Raniere closed the company after investigators discovered that it was a pyramid scheme.
After Consumer's Buyline, Keith and a business partner started Nxivm.
In nearly 30 years, the Nxivm program and Executive Success Programs now have chapters around the country, Canada and Mexico, offering workshop seminars that offer people a way to overcome emotional and psychological barriers.
But a lot of people called Nxivm a cult. In 2003, Forbes Magazine's cover story on Nxivm was headlined, "Cult of Personality," referring to Keith and his followers.
The article reports,Raniere runs "a cult-like program aimed at breaking down his subjects psychologically, separating them from their families and inducting them into a bizarre world of messianic pretensions, idiosyncratic language and ritualistic practices." One former follower even said "I think it's a cult."
I mean, a cult? That's a pretty heavy claim.
According to cult expert Rick A. Ross, all cults typically have a charismatic leader who becomes an object of worship, a formal system of removing a followers identity, and the economic or sexual exploitation of followers.
Is that really what happens at this self-help seminar?
According to Forbes, "Students pay up to $10,000 for five days of lectures and intense emotional probing in daily 13-hour cram sessions. They remove their shoes for class, learn obscure handshakes and wear patented colored sashes in dozens of different variations that signify rank in the organization."
Keith began to call himself "Vanguard," and achieved a mythical status among his followers.
Keith as "the Vanguard" became so revered, followers would reportedly greet him with a kiss on the mouth.
So... yeah, sounds like a cult.
But Nxivm's influence continued to grow. By 2012, Nxivm boasted a followership of over 10,000 people world-wide.
Keith Raniere also started like a cross between Jesus, Steve Jobs, and Jared Leto... Those closest to Keith paint a different picture.
In federal court, a former girlfriend described Raniere as "a compulsive gambler, a sex addict with bizarre desires and needs, and a con man that specializes in Ponzi schemes." However, the story of Nxivm took a darker turn most recently.
The New York Times reports a secret sorority inside Nxivm had been formed as a force for good, one that could grow into a network that could influence events like elections. To become effective, members had to overcome weaknesses that Mr. Raniere taught were common to women, such as an overemotional nature, a failure to keep promises and an embrace of the role of victim.
According to inside sources, "The sisterhood would comprise circles, each led by a “master” who would recruit six “slaves,” according to two women. In time, they would recruit slaves of their own."
Sex slavery AND a Ponzi scheme! That is multiple levels of messed up.
Earlier this week, actress Catherine Oxenberg met with prosecutors in the NY Attorney General's office claiming her daughter India is being held by this group.
Another actress is said to be a recruiter for this secret society. Allison Mack, who played Chloe on Smallville, is a Nxivm follower.
Mack is an open advocate of Keith Raniere's teachings, and the two have worked together on projects and Nxivm matters since 2013. Insider sources allege that was Mack that introduced the masochistic elements to Ramiere's secret harem.
Insider reports claim that the symbol branded onto members on initiation contains both Keith Ranier's and Allison Mack's initials.
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