Updated: May 8, 2019
A former member of a cult-like group known as Nxivm, speaks out on Tuesday for the first time on graphic details about how women in the “cult” were manipulated into becoming “slaves” that provided sexual favors to its leader.
The 32-year-old British woman who identified as “Sylvie,” breaks her silence in a testimony for the racketeering and sex trafficking trial of Keith Raniere, the former leader of Nxivm in Brooklyn federal court. The statement gave jurors a glimpse into a group in which prosecutors claim multiple women were branded and humiliated.
In Sylvie’s statement, she said she was involved with the Nxivm cult for nearly 13 years, taking self-help courses, when she was invited to join a secretive sorority within the organization.
However, to join, Sylvie said she was first required to prove her dedication by providing “collateral” to Monica Duran, the woman who had personally invited her, in the form of nude photographs and a stamped letter to her parents saying she was a prostitute.
“Now I was Monica’s slave, and she was my master, and the collateral was in place to keep that going,” Sylvie said. She claims she was given “assignments” that she was expected to fulfill without question.
Soon after her initiation, Sylvie said, Ms. Duran ordered her to seduce Mr. Raniere, who demanded that Sylvie send him explicit pictures of herself. At one point, Sylvie said, she had stopped trying to send the photos but was informed she needed the permission of Mr. Raniere’s.
The real purpose of the group was to exert power over women. Some of the former followers of Mr. Raniere’s former were branded with his initials and pressured into handing over confidential documents and information such as deeds to their homes, bank account information, and their “deepest, darkest secrets,” which were used as leverage to control them.
Many of the women involved in the cult had sex with Mr. Raniere, one of which included an underage girl from Mexico named Camilla. Mr. Raniere had kept explicit sexual photos of the young girl and several other women on his computer, according to prosecutors.
Mr. Raniere addressed the girl as “Virgin Camilla,” and began having sex with her when she was 15.
Raniere could be facing a charge of statutory rape under the New York law and a criminal act under federal law, but he has not been indicted on either of the charges yet.