Authorities expect to make more arrests in the sex-trafficking investigation of a self-help group that has already resulted in charges against former Smallville actress Allison Mack and the group’s leader, a prosecutor said.
- Allison Mack and Keith Raniere appear in court for pre-trial hearing
- It was the first time Mack and Mr Raniere had seen each other since the “cult” leader was arrested
- Both have pleaded not guilty to charges they coerced women into joining a secret society
Assistant US Attorney Moira Penza told a judge at a pre-trial hearing in federal court in Brooklyn the government plans to file a revised indictment naming more defendants in the coming weeks.
Prominent backers of upstate New York-based group NXIVM (pronounced NEX’-ee-um) said they were in the dark about allegations women were forced to have sex with leader Keith Raniere.
Friday’s hearing marked the first time Mack and Mr Raniere had seen each other since his arrest this past March in Mexico, where they were staying together in a villa in Puerto Vallarta.
The actress, who is free on bail but under home detention, sat two chairs away from Mr Raniere at the defence table, but there was no interaction. Mr Raniere remains jailed.
Both have pleaded not guilty to charges they coerced women into joining a secret society within the group and becoming Mr Raniere’s sex “slaves”.
Some of the women were branded with a symbol that prosecutors said contained Mr Raniere’s initials.
Mack, 35, is best known for playing Chloe Sullivan, a teenage friend of Superman, on the CW network’s Smallville. She left court on Friday without commenting.
Lawyers for Mr Raniere told reporters they are eager to go to trial and give his side of the story.
Mr Raniere’s lawyers said their client had no reason to plead guilty to the charges. (Reuters: Brendan McDermid)
Any relationship between their client and the alleged victims, including an unidentified actress and other women expected to testify against Mr Raniere at trial, was consensual, they said.
“These were adults who knew what they were doing,” attorney Paul DerOhannesian said.
NXIVM’s Mexican affiliate is headed by Emiliano Salinas, a son of that country’s former president.
Authorities also say Mr Raniere has been bankrolled by Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune.
Both have said they were unaware of the alleged abuses.
The judge set an October 1 trial date for Mack and Mr Raniere.