In the past few months, there have been many news stories about a sex cult called NXIVM and its founder Keith Raniere, who was arrested in March. Since then, actress Allison Mack has also been arrested, and reports about who she attempted to recruit for the group have continued to trickle out (Emma Watson, for one). Here, a complete guide to Allison's involvement with the organization.
Who is Allison?
Allison is best known for her role as Chloe Sullivan on Smallville, the teen Superman show that aired from 2001 to 2011. She later had roles in Wilfred (the Elijah Wood comedy series where he could talk to his neighbor's dog) and The Following.
What is NXIVM?
Founded in 1998 by Keith Raniere, NXIVM (pronounced like "Nexium") purports to be an organization focused on professional development via "executive success seminars," but former members have alleged that the group is a front for a cult led by Raniere. The group is based in Albany, New York, with other chapters across the United States and Canada. According to a 2017 article in The New York Times, female members of the group were branded and forced to provide compromising material like nude photographs to be used as collateral in the event that they tried to speak out about NXIVM. The group denies that it is a cult, but former members have said that followers referred to Raniere as "Vanguard."
How did Allison get involved?
Allison became involved with the group around 2006, along with her fellow Smallville actress Kristen Kreuk. (Kristin has since said that she did not know about the group's cult-like activities and said that she participated only in a self-help course that helped her overcome her shyness; she left in 2012.) According to the New York Post, Allison's celebrity status was used to recruit other women into the group. She eventually became a member of Raniere's inner circle, and can be seen talking about how great the group is in 2013 YouTube videos.
What did she do?
According to court documents, she "aggressively recruited" women to join NXIVM and solicited material that could be used as collateral. Per The New York Times, female members of NXIVM had sex with Raniere out of fear that the collateral would be released; they would also face physical punishment if they did not comply with various rules. Allison attempted to recruit several high-profile celebrities to the group, including Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson. "Ms. Mack was one of the top members of a highly organized scheme which was designed to provide sex to [Raniere]," U.S. attorney Moira Penza said in April. "Under the guise of female empowerment, she starved women until they fit her co-defendant's sexual feminine ideal." Allison has not commented on the allegations.
What kind of punishment is she facing?
In April, she was arrested on charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy. She entered a not guilty plea and was released on $5 million bail; she's since been on house arrest in California. According to reports, her attorneys are attempting to negotiate a plea deal that would result in the case not going to trial. If convicted, she could face a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison.
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