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Cults of personality

NXIVM (a.k.a. DOS)[1] is an organisation that provides "personal-development" seminars. It behaves in a manner rather akin to a litigious cult.[2] It also operates Executive Success Programs, Inc. It was founded by Keith Raniere (1960–) ("The Vanguard")[3] in 1998. The name is pronounced to rhyme with "Nexium", an over-the-counter 24-hour antacid.

At one point, they ran a news site called "The Knife of Aristotle", which later just became "The Knife". They claimed to help readers snuff out fake news, but their methodology for doing so was incredibly vague.[4] Nevertheless, Media Bias/Fact Check apparently felt confident enough to give it a "Least Biased" rating, somehow. The Knife shuttered its doors somewhere around August 2018.[5]

What it claims[edit]

NXIVM boasted "a remarkable development in scientific and psychodynamic understanding, education, and technology that can facilitate this transition so the pattern of humanity's rises and falls can actually be broken and transformed."[6]

Former Smallville star Kristin KreukWikipedia allegedly recruited her co-star, Allison Mack,Wikipedia into the cult. She was sent to a self-help retreat which turned out to be one of their recruitment seminars. Kreuk just barely got in and then got out, but Mack did not. She co-founded the sex sect, recruited and kept the women underfed, branded them with her initials, and introduced corporal punishment along with her leader. Grace ParkWikipedia and Nicki ClyneWikipedia were also involved in the organization in some capacity.[7][8][9] Clearly, Raniere was trying to fuck and brand all the women from your favorite sci-fi shows as a kid. In addition, the guy got two heiresses to give him $60 million.[10]

Response to critics[edit]

While gratuitous comparisons to Scientology annoy the experienced cult watcher, it really doesn't help NXIVM's case when they take their moves straight out of said tax-deductible religion's playbook:

  • They label dissenters "suppressives".
  • They respond to said dissenters with attempted overwhelming legal force (to the point where judges call them out on it).
  • They sent private investigators to go through Rick Ross's garbage cans, of all the people to try such a stunt on.[11]
  • They also tried to sue Ross for copyright violations when he quoted their material to criticise it, which surprisingly enough didn't work out too well for them.[12]
  • They even cited a Scientology lawsuit victory as a defense against the forced labor/nude photo blackmail charges filed in the sorority scandal.[13]

Sorority scandal[edit]

The 2018 indictment against Raniere et al.

A secret sorority within the organization, said to have started in 2015, was discovered in 2017, with female recruits being non-consensually branded with a mark below their hip after being asked to voluntarily offer naked photographs and other compromising material as "collateral" and a show of trust. The sorority was structured around obedience, with each circle led by a "master" who would recruit six "slaves", who were then expected to recruit slaves of their own. Punishments for lack of strict obedience included fasting and corporal punishments. Over time, more collateral was demanded from its members. Text messages suggest that Raniere was aware of its practices, including the brand which incorporated his initials.[14] According to court testimony by ex-member Lauren Salzman, Raniere envisioned having thousands of slaves.[1]

In 2018, Raniere was indicted with charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.[3] Allison Mack was arrested and charged with the same crimes on April 20, 2018.[15] Reason has, however, criticized the charges of "sex trafficking", noticing that although what they did at NXIVM can be called several things, it cannot be called "sex trafficking", and that they're calling it so because of sensationalism.[16]

In April 2019, Allison Mack (1982–) pleaded guilty to the crimes of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges.[17] In July 2021, Mack was sentenced to three years in prison.[18]

In June 2019, Raniere was found guilty of "racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and attempted sex trafficking."[19] Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison on 27 October 2020.[20]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The NXIVM 'Sex Cult' Story Keeps Getting More Disturbing: Lauren Salzman testified that Keith Raniere envisioned thousands of "slaves" and even one of them running for office. by Sarah Berman (May 20 2019, 2:58pm) Vice.
  2. Ross Institute 2003 essays on NXIVM
  3. 3.0 3.1 Founder of the secretive self-help group NXIVM charged with sex trafficking (Mar 26, 2018, 7:49 PM ET) ABC News.
  4. The Knife of Aristotle Isn't Just a Fake "Fake News" Site—It's a Cult by Brock Wilbur (May 30, 2017) Paste
  5. The Knife, Media Bias/Fact Check
  6. Front page, nxivm.com. Archived from 31 March 2017.
  7. "How a Secret Society That Brands Women Sold Empowerment" by Sarah Berman (23 November 2017, 12:33pm) Vice.
  8. "These Actresses Have Been Linked to an Alleged Sex Cult" by Sarah Berman (6 April 2018, 6:25pm) Vice.
  9. "Sex cult sources: Allison Mack ‘married’ Actress Nicki Clyne to defraud US Immigration", Artvoice 3 April 2018. Time to lock down Katie Sackhoff and everyone from the Stargate franchise.
  10. Andrews, Suzana, "The Heiresses and the Cult", Vanity Fair November 2010.
  11. 'NXIVM is a litigation machine' (James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish, Times Union, 13 March 2012)
  12. Nicholas Köhler, How to Lose $100 Million Archived from Maclean's, 13 September 2010.
  13. Kevin Fitzpatrick, Smallville Star Turns to Scientology Precedent in Nxivm Cult Case. Vanity Fair, 30 December 2018.
  14. Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded by Barry Meier, The New York Times, Oct. 17, 2017)
  15. Founder of “NXIVM,” a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Actor Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Conspiracy. United States Department of Justice, 20 April 2018.
  16. The Sex Trafficking Charges Against Smallville Actress Allison Mack Are Totally Bogus. Reason, 26 April 2018.
  17. Allison Mack of ‘Smallville’ Pleads Guilty in Case of Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ Where Women Were Branded
  18. Edward Helmore, Allison Mack: Hollywood actor with key role in abusive Nxivm sex cult. The Guardian, 4 July 2021.
  19. Nxivm sex cult leader found guilty by Veronica Rocha et al. (Updated 3:25 p.m. ET, June 19, 2019) CNN.
  20. Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays, NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison. Associated Press, 27 October 2020.