The Vow: NXIVM's Financial Backer Clare Bronfman Has Been Sentenced to 81 Months

Hedy Phillips
·2 mins read
Clare Bronfman arrives at US District court in Brooklyn, New York on September 30, 2020 to be sentenced  for her role in NXIVM, a group that prosecutors say operated as a pyramid scheme and sex-trafficking cult. - US prosecutors on Agust 28, 2020 requested life in prison for a
Clare Bronfman arrives at US District court in Brooklyn, New York on September 30, 2020 to be sentenced for her role in NXIVM, a group that prosecutors say operated as a pyramid scheme and sex-trafficking cult. - US prosecutors on Agust 28, 2020 requested life in prison for a

Update: On Sept. 30, Clare Bronfman was sentenced to 81 months in prison for her participation in the legal intimidation of NXIVM's ex-members.

Original post: The highly controversial NXIVM organization - which was exposed as a sex cult in 2017 by The New York Times - had a number of high-profile members and leaders, which is explained in HBO's documentary The Vow. Aside from pulling in people from Hollywood, like Smallville actress Allison Mack, influential people also took part in the organization. Two of those people were Sara and Clare Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram's fortune.

Sara and Clare, according to The Hollywood Reporter, provided immense financial backing for NXIVM and its leader, Keith Raniere. Specifically, they provided their private jet for NXIVM use and flew it to various seminars and even invited Mack on board in 2006 when the organization was trying to woo her to join. The Hollywood Reporter also reported that the estimated financial support the Bronfmans provided to NXIVM is somewhere around $150 million and that they even borrowed against their inheritances to finance Raniere and his organization.

Both Sara and Clare were also heavily involved with NXIVM, with Clare telling The New York Times in 2018 that they were students of Raniere's. And though the sisters aren't facing charges anywhere near what Mack is facing for her role in recruiting women to join the sect, they are still going through court proceedings.

Though Sara wasn't accused of a crime during previous trials, she did agree in late 2019 to give up her ownership interests in NXIVM's properties in exchange for 20 percent of the sale, after the properties were seized by authorities. However, she was also labeled a member of Raniere's "trusted group" in court, according to the Times Union, which could draw her into any future court proceedings.

Clare, on the other hand, is facing prison time for her involvement in NXIVM. In 2019, she "agreed to forfeit $6 million to the federal government and to plead guilty to felony charges of harboring an illegal alien and the fraudulent use of a deceased person's identity," according to Forbes.

In December 2019, the New York Post reported that Clare's sentencing would be postponed to February. However, it's now been pushed until September. She is facing 21 to 27 months in federal prison. According to the Houston Chronicle in May, Clare's lawyer told the judge her client wouldn't consent to sentencing via video: "She respectfully requests that the court adjourn her sentencing until such date as the sentencing can be conducted in person at the courthouse." Instead, Clare will be sentenced when courts reopen.