NXIVM leader Keith Raniere maintains innocence in his first prison interview: 'There is a horrible injustice here'

Callie Ahlgrim
·3 min read
keith raniere the vow hbo
Old footage of Keith Raniere is heavily featured throughout HBO's docu-series "The Vow." HBO
  • NXIVM leader Keith Raniere maintained his innocence in an NBC News exclusive interview.

  • He called the suffering caused by NXIVM, an alleged sex cult disguised as a self-help group, "a horrible tragedy" — but also said his conviction is "a horrible injustice."

  • "People can hate me, and do, and think I'm an odious type of a character," he said. "Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system."

  • The NXIVM founder has not spoken publicly since his 2018 arrest, and is mere days away from federal sentencing.

  • Raniere was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Keith Raniere is speaking out for the first time since his 2018 arrest, and mere days ahead of his federal sentencing.

The NXIVM founder and alleged cult leader was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering. He pled not guilty and maintained his innocence in the NBC News exclusive interview.

"People can hate me, and do, and think I'm an odious type of a character — you know, awful actually," he said. "Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system."

Raniere was interviewed by blogger Frank Parlato, a former NXIVM spokesman who originally broke the news about DOS, a secret sorority within the larger organization.

So-called "masters" in DOS, which stands for "Dominus Obsequious Sororium," reportedly monitored the calorie intake of their "slaves" and even forcibly branded many women with Raniere's initials. Some of the women say they were groomed and raped by Raniere.

Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmonson, who was branded, has said that Raniere created DOS to "formalize" his misogyny.

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Former NXIVM member India Oxenberg, center, says she was groomed and raped by Keith Raniere. Melkorka Licea/STARZ; Mary Altaffe/AP; Seth Wenig/AP; Skye Gould/Business Insider

Raniere said the suffering described by these women is "a horrible tragedy."

"I apologize for my participation in all of this pain and suffering. I've clearly participated. I've been the leader of the community," he told Parlato.

He also described his conviction as "a horrible injustice" and said he plans to proclaim his innocence at his sentencing on Tuesday.

"Yes, I am innocent," he said. "And although it is, this is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt — I think the main thrust of this has been the oppression but really a different issue, which is hard for me to express."

"There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I'm the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined."

The highly-publicized trial of the NXIVM members — including Raniere, NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, and former "Smallville" star Allison Mack — will be documented in the forthcoming second season of HBO's "The Vow."

Read the original article on Insider