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Prosecutor: NXIVM Head Had Sex With Teen 'Virgin Camilla'

Sex trafficking and racketeering trial of Keith Raniere is now underway in New York
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2019 6:21 AM CDT
In this courtroom drawing, defendant Keith Raniere, center, is seated between his attorneys during the first day of his sex trafficking trial on Tuesday.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

(Newser) – The inevitable salacious details are emerging at the sex trafficking and racketeering trial of Keith Raniere, the leader of the cult-like NXIVM group, and those details started flowing in a Brooklyn courtroom Tuesday via "Sylvie." The New York Times details testimony of the 32-year-old UK woman, who says she was lured into NXIVM for supposed "self-help" purposes and stuck around for 13 years, becoming a "slave" to the woman who recruited her, Monica Duran. Sylvie says she had to give "collateral" to Duran in the form of nude pictures and other materials. "Now I was Monica's slave and she was my master and the collateral was in place to keep that going," Sylvie told the court. Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar also weighed in, calling Raniere, 58, a "predator" who "sold himself as the smartest, most ethical person in the world" and "compared himself to Einstein and to Gandhi," per Reuters.

Hajjar told jurors about a young teen Raniere nicknamed "Virgin Camilla," whom Raniere brought from Mexico to New York along with her two sisters in 2005 to "mentor," per the New York Post. Instead, Hajjar said, he started having sex with them, including Camilla starting when she was 15, which could spur statutory rape charges. "This was organized crime, and Keith Raniere was the crime boss in the community," Hajjar tells the Times. But defense attorney Marc Agnifilo insisted that even if Raniere was tough or demanding, the group's members joined of their own free will. "This is something these people signed up for," Agnifilo said. "Control can be very bad. Control can also make Marines. Control can make gold medal winners." Raniere, who has pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges, including sex trafficking, racketeering, extortion, and forced labor, could face life in prison if convicted. (Read more NXIVM stories.)

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