A self-described NXIVM 'sex slave' reveals in court what it was like to be a member of the cult: 'Everything was just lies and deceit and darkness'

Photo by Amy Luke/Getty ImagesThe NXIVM Executive Success Programs sign outside of the office at 455 New Karner Road on April 26, 2018 in Albany, New York.
  • Accused sex cult leader Keith Raniere’s first alleged victim testified against him in court in New York.
  • The 32-year-old British woman, named Sylvie, gave chilling testimony of her 13 years as a member of Raniere’s group NXIVM.
  • Raniere stands accused of multiple crimes including racketeering, extortion, sexual exploitation of a child, and possession of child pornography.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

A 32-year-old British woman named Sylvie was in a New York court this week to describe the harrowing details of daily life as a member of the alleged sex cult NXIVM.

The woman’s chilling testimony came during the high-profile trial of NXIVM’s accused leader, Keith Raniere. He stands accused of multiple crimes including racketeering, extortion, sexual exploitation of a child, and possession of child pornography, according to court filings.

Sylvie described her 13 years in NXIVM in court. As a member of DOS, a secret society within the group, she said she was forced to hand over naked photos of herself as “collateral”; was referred to as a “slave” and directed by her “master” to engage in oral sex with Raniere and seduce him, despite not wanting sexual contact; remained quiet as Raniere took photos of her vagina; and wore a dog collar to prove her loyalty to her “master.”

“All around that time I felt so much shame about this cult thing,” Sylvie said, according to The New York Times. “Everything was just lies and deceit and darkness.”

Read more:
What to expect during the trial of Keith Raniere, the leader of the alleged sex cult NXIVM

Prosecutors have alleged that Raniere branded his followers with a symbol of his initials on their flesh, to prove their loyalty. In court, Sylvie explained how days before she was expected to be branded, a blog post surfaced detailing abuse within NXIVM,Buzzfeed News reported.

“I got freaked out,” Sylvie said about the post. “The thing that scared me most was there was a story about women being beaten with paddles.”

NXIVMPhoto by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesLed by John Marzulli (L), Public Information Officer for the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Eastern District of New York, staff and members of the prosecution team push carts full of court documents related to the U.S. v. Keith Raniere case as they arrive at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York a, May 7, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Sylvie and her husband eventually left the group and returned to England, where she now resides. She first came to the US when she was just 18, taking care of horses owned by Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, who pleaded guilty in April to two criminal counts in connection with the sex cult scandal. At that time, Bronfman also admitted to harboring a woman who came to the US with a fake work visa, to use the woman’s labour for herself and the organisation.

Sylvie is Raniere’s first alleged victim to testify against him in court.

So far, five woman, including Bronfman,“Smallville” actress Allison Mack, and NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, have pleaded guilty to various charges.

Raniere has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his attorney, Marc Agnifilo, described his relationship with women in the organisation as consensual, NBC News reported.

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