NEW YORK | She refused to the end to disown a man who kept sex slaves: Clare Bronfman, heir to the Seagram liquor empire, was sentenced Wednesday in New York to more than six years in prison – 81 months – after pleading guilty in the sex trafficking scandal of the Nxivm sect.
• Read also: Cult Nxivm: Clare Bronfman still does not deny her guru
The sentence, which also includes a $ 500,000 fine, is heavier than that requested by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, who requested five years in jail for the 41-year-old heiress.
The daughter of the late billionaire Edgar Bronfman had pleaded guilty in April 2019 to credit card fraud and to hiding an underground individual on behalf of the Nxivm organization, created by Keith Raniere, who was tried in June 2019 of ” having maintained for several years during a harem of 15 to 20 sex slaves.
Mme Bronfman was not charged with a direct connection to this slavery, but prosecutors had argued that she had provided Mr. Raniere with irreplaceable financial support with his estimated fortune of $ 210 million.
“There is little doubt that Raniere could not have committed the crimes for which he was convicted without powerful allies like Mr.me Bronfman, “they said in a pre-hearing document.
Nine women victims of the organization testified on Wednesday, sometimes in tears, noting that Mr.me Bronfman, who paid lawyers to silence critics of Nxivm, had “ruined” their lives.
Defense lawyers had hoped to save him jail, asking for three years on parole.
According to them, Mme Bronfman knew nothing about Keith Raniere’s sexual abuse, perpetrated through an organization parallel to Nxivm, “DOS”, which included “masters” and “slaves”.
“To feel accepted”
To believe them, she only knew the good side of the organization, based in Albany, New York, namely its training that promotes personal growth: training that she had discovered in 1983 and which had allowed this woman, ill at ease, to overcome her anxieties.
Until the end, Clare Bronfman refused to disown Mr. Raniere.
“During my many years at Nxivm, I began to appreciate life, to feel accepted, loved, happy,” she wrote to New York judge Nicholas Garaufis in late August. “A lot of members of this community have become a bit of my family, and I can’t turn my back on those friendships or deny the profound impact Keith and Nxivm have had on my life,” she added.
This refusal undoubtedly contributed to increase his sentence.
She “wrote to the judge to say that Nxivm and Keith Raniere had changed her life for the better. She’s going to have over six years to contemplate that feeling, and decide once and for all if it’s as easy to accept as she thought it would be, “New York FBI official William Sweeney said after the hearing.
Of the six people indicted in this scandal, revealed in March 2018, Mr.me Bronfman is the first to know his sentence.
Keith Raniere, who has always said his sex was consensual, is expected to be sentenced on October 27.
After six weeks of trial, the man who was considered a guru was found guilty of all seven counts against him, including sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old girl, extortion and criminal conspiracy.
The other four defendants pleaded guilty, including actress Allison Mack, of the series Smallville, on two counts, for extortion and criminal association.
The Nxivm case has already been adapted twice to the screen: a docu-series, The Vow, which emphasizes the non-sexual side of the organization, and a film by Lisa Robinson, Escaping the Nxivm Cult (2019), based on the testimony of a mother who tried to get her daughter out of the organization.