US ‘sex slave’ guru goes on trial in New York

US ‘sex slave’ guru goes on trial in New York

The trial of an American “self-help” guru who ran a secretive society of women sex slaves branded with his initials begins Tuesday in New York, where his former female supporters may be called to testify against him.
Six people had been due to appear in the dock, but 58-year-old Keith Raniere will now be the only one to stand trial.
The other five — all women who held management positions in various organisations headed by Raniere, including US actress Allison Mack — have pleaded guilty one by one and avoided going on trial.
“Vanguard”, as Raniere was also known, was the leader of Nxivm, a purported executive coaching organisation which according to prosecutors served to extort money from followers and enable him to exploit women sexually.
More than 16,000 people over two decades passed through Raniere’s self-help workshops, which promised to develop their “human potential”, charging $5,000 for a 5-day course.
Many who signed up quickly became indebted and ended up having to work for Nxivm (pronounced Nexium), the main organisation, to pay their fees.
From the beginning, Raniere is believed to have had a circle of 15 to 20 women under his influence, with whom he had sex at will.
As with many sects, everything rested on the powerful psychological influence of the guru, who used a mixture of pseudo-philosophical teachings, close oversight and humiliation to assert control.
Source: Guardian Newspaper