In this June 18, 2019 courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Keith Raniere, center, sits with attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during closing arguments at Brooklyn federal court in New York. Raniere and his lawyers filed a motion Monday, March 9, 2020 for a new trial, arguing that two witnesses perjured themselves when they denied they were planning to sue him after the trial. A jury convicted Keith Raniere in June on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)
NEW YORK — The leader of a cult-like self-improvement group that attracted heiresses and Hollywood actresses is requesting a new trial in his sex-trafficking case.
A jury convicted Keith Raniere in June on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex. He and his lawyers filed a motion Monday in Brooklyn federal court for a new trial, arguing that two witnesses perjured themselves when they denied they were planning to sue him after the trial.
The two women who testified at Raniere’s trial are part of an 80-plaintiff lawsuit filed in January against Raniere and members of the group’s top leadership, according to the motion. Some plaintiffs claim they were recruited as sex slaves and were forced to have Raniere’s initials branded on their bodies.
Attorney Neil Glazer, who represents the two women, told the New York Post they did not initially intend to join the lawsuit but changed their minds after they saw how much evidence was revealed during the trial.
Raniere ran a once-thriving organization based in Albany, New York, called NXIVM, pronounced NEHK-see-uhm. Raniere was accused of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves through shame, punishment and nude blackmail photos.
His adherents included actress Allison Mack of TV’s “Smallville”; an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, Clare Bronfman; and a daughter of TV star Catherine Oxenberg of “Dynasty” fame.
Raniere is scheduled to be sentenced on April 16. He is set to receive a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence and could get up to life in prison.