image caption Nancy Salzman
Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman has been sentenced to over three years in prison for her role in the suspected sex cult.
She pleaded guilty to racketeering offences in 2019. Investigators say Nxivm was a sex-trafficking operation disguised as mentoring group.
Salzman, 66, admitted in court to stealing the email addresses and passwords of Nxivm critics.
The group’s spiritual leader, Keith Raniere, was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October 2020.
He was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, child pornography and other crimes.
In a Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, Salzman said she was “horrified and shamed” to have ever promoted Raniere.
She was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying Raniere is a “narcissistic sociopath”. For years she mistakenly believed him to be an “oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius”, she said.
Salzman’s attorneys said she now appreciates “the full weight of her wrongdoing while she served as Keith Raniere’s collaborator and enabler” of the cult.
Federal judge Nicholas Garaufis, however, said that Salzman left “trauma and destruction” on her victims during her time with Nxivm.
In the sentencing memo from August, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar said that Salzman “disparaged or humiliated women and blamed victims of abuse” by helping spread Nxivm teachings.
“You never rejected [Raniere]. The door was always open but you never left,” the New York Daily News quoted the judge as saying.
Salzman also admitted to altering videos of herself that were to be used in a lawsuit against anti-cult “deprogrammer” Rick Alan Ross.
She will report to prison in January 2022. The delay is intended to allow her time to recover from an unspecified medical procedure.
Ahead of the verdict, the court heard audio and video testimonies from several former Nxivm members who detailed Salzman’s role in the organisation.
Founded in 1998, the Albany, New York-based group described itself as “a community guided by humanitarian principles” with the ultimate aim of “empowering” its members.
Nxivm claimed it worked with over 16,000 people and operated centres across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Several Hollywood actresses and the son of a former Mexican president were reportedly members.
Salzman’s daughter, Lauren, was also a high-ranking member of Nxivm.
She faced up to seven years in jail, but in July was given five years of probation after helping prosecutors take down Raniere.