One of the highest-ranking members of the NXIVM sex slave cult for which ringleader Keith Raniere is currently serving a 120-year sentence has received a reduced sentence of just 5 years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.
Lauren Salzman, whose mother founded the group with Raniere, provided testimony which helped convict Raniere, was considered to be “central” to the case against her former “master” and Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis stated Jul 28 that he believed her to be both a victimizer and a victim in the twisted cult.
Salzman pled guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in 2019 for the role she played in the high-profile sex cult case.
“The defendant helped Keith Raniere implement some of the most twisted, manipulative and reprehensible schemes,” the judge stated when he handed down his sentence. “She is also herself a victim of Raniere and his depravity.”
Citing Salzman’s “credible, detailed testimony,” prosecutors had requested a sentence below the federal guidelines of seven to nine years.
“By virtue of her close, decades-long relationship,” they wrote in a memorandum. “Lauren Salzman was privy to a significant amount of information regarding Raniere’s role in directing criminal activity.”
Salzman, who met Raniere when she was just 21 right before her mother helped establish NXIVM, recruited women to the cult and its inner circle of Raniere’s personal “sex slaves,” D.O.S.
These women where physically branded — Salzman was present for five of these twisted rituals — with a symbol containing Raniere’s initials and were expected to be always unyieldingly and unquestionably submissive to him, The New York Times explains.
In one case, Salzman oversaw the punishment of a fellow member who had angered Raniere by being attracted to another man.
This woman was isolated in a room for two years, going months without human contact. Salzman was the only person who visited her, and when she did, was often unkind, the woman testified.
Salzman has expressed deep remorse for the role she played in the cult.
“There was nothing empowering about this group,” she said in federal court last week. “There was pain, deceit, there was humiliation, control.”
Some of the former members simply don’t buy it, however.
“She groomed me to feel safe in the presence of a predator and his vicious pack,” said Ivy Nevares, who was a close friend of Salzman’s for 17 years only to be thrown under the bus when she was subject to forced labor as part of the cult.
“She used her position and skills to try to force me to accept my exploitation and to do so with a smile,” she said.
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