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Televangelist's Jail Sentence Is Jaw-Dropping

Turkish cult leader Adnan Oktar gets 8,658 years behind bars

(Newser) - It doesn't look like Adnan Oktar is getting out of prison anytime soon. The 66-year-old Turkish televangelist—notorious for his rants against evolution and the "British deep state," and for surrounding himself with young women he called "kittens"—found out his fate Wednesday in an...

Members of Religious Sect Charged in Girl's Death

Parents of Australia's Elizabeth Struhs were previously charged; they prayed instead of providing insulin

(Newser) - Australian police on Tuesday arrested 12 members of a religious group who allegedly prayed for an 8-year-old Queensland girl as she lay dying, rather than providing life-saving insulin. Earlier this year, the girl's parents, Jason and Kerrie Struhs, were arrested and charged with murder, torture, and failing to provide...

He Won't Call It a Cult, but Acknowledges 'Cultlike Things'

In 'Esquire,' Jeff Gross tries to come to grips with decades he spent in Ganas commune

(Newser) - The story by David Gauvey Herbert in Esquire is in most respects about what its critics label a cult. If the Waco Branch Davidians were a 10 on the cult spectrum, this group—called Ganas—was more like a 5 or 6, renowned cult expert Rick Alan Ross tells Herbert....

For First Time, Heaven's Gate Survivors Are Talking

To Diane Sawyer, 25 years after 39 died in cult mass suicide

(Newser) - Surviving members of the cult behind America's largest mass suicide are speaking out for the first time about the bizarre life they left behind. In an upcoming two-hour 20/20 special, Diane Sawyer speaks with two surviving members of Heaven's Gate "who share their stories for the first...

'Mother God' Is Dead. Here's What Came Before That

'Marie Claire' delves into Amy Carlson Stroud, the late leader of Love Has Won

(Newser) - The story made headlines in May : Police were told that the mummified remains of the female leader of Love Has Won (LHW) were in a Moffat, Colorado, home. In July, those remains—with missing eyes, glittery makeup, and a body wrapped in a sleeping bag and Christmas lights—were positively...

Allison Mack Gets 3 Years in NXIVM Cult Case
Actress Allison Mack
Is Now an Inmate

Actress Allison Mack Is Now an Inmate

Convicted in NXIVM case, she starts her sentence early

(Newser) - Update: Allison Mack is now behind bars. The actress started her prison sentence early, with the Bureau of Prisons confirming Wednesday that Mack entered its custody Monday. She's at a low-security federal correctional facility for women in California, NBC reports. The 39-year-old, best known for Smallville, was convicted in...

Allison Mack Apologizes for Her Role in NXIVM Cult

'Smallville' actress will be sentenced Wednesday

(Newser) - Days before her sentencing in the NXIVM sex trafficking case, Smallville actress Allison Mack apologized for her role in the cult-like group. Mack, best known for playing Chloe Sullivan on the WB/CW series, wrote a nearly 800-word statement for the federal judge who will sentence her Wednesday describing the "...

Alleged Cult Leader Dies, Followers Apparently Can't Part With Her

7 members of Love Has Won religious group kept mummified remains of Amy Carlson in home

(Newser) - Police say a man returned to his rural Colorado home last week to find a mummified woman, who "appeared to be set up in some type of shrine." The face, with missing eyes, was caked in glittery makeup, and the body was wrapped in a sleeping bag and...

Big Twist in Case of Victimized Sarah Lawrence Students

Isabella Pollok, painted as a victim of Larry Ray, now charged as accomplice

(Newser) - An unexpected twist in a bizarre case involving a group of Sarah Lawrence students that came into the public consciousness by way of a lengthy story from the Cut . "What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate's father?" Ezra...

Sex Cult Founder Gets 120 Years
Sex Cult Founder
Learns His Fate

Sex Cult Founder Learns His Fate

NXIVM leader Keith Raniere gets 120 years

(Newser) - Defense lawyers said self-help guru and NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere should be sentenced to only 15 years in prison after being found guilty of sex trafficking, racketeering, and other crimes. But after hearing searing testimony from 15 victims Tuesday, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis sentenced the unrepentant 60-year-old...

Billionaire's Daughter Gets 81 Months in Sex-Cult Case
Heiress Sentenced
in Sex-Cult Case

Heiress Sentenced in Sex-Cult Case

Clare Bronfman gets 81 months for her involvement in Nxivm

(Newser) - An heiress is heading to prison for her role in an abusive cult that turned women into sex slaves, the New York Daily News reports. A judge sentenced Clare Bronfman, the daughter of late Seagram's billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr., to 81 months in prison and fined her $500,000...

Amy Barrett's in a 'Charismatic' Catholic Group —But Is It a Cult?
Amy Barrett
Is in a Group
That 'Speaks
in Tongues'
the rundown

Amy Barrett Is in a Group That 'Speaks in Tongues'

The media spotlight falls on a 'charismatic community' called People of Praise

(Newser) - President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court belongs to a tightly knit Catholic group called People of Praise—but what exactly is it? The media spotlight is falling on Amy Coney Barrett's "charismatic community" and reviving questions about its spiritual advisers, communal living spaces, and alleged connection...

'Jesus of Siberia' Arrested
'Jesus of Siberia' Arrested

'Jesus of Siberia' Arrested

Self-proclaimed Messiah accused of extortion

(Newser) - Sergei Torop isn't the Messiah but rather a very naughty man, according to authorities in Siberia. The traffic cop-turned-cult leader , also known as "Vissarion the Teacher" and "Jesus of Siberia," was arrested Tuesday in a special operation involving the military and several Russian law enforcement agencies,...

7 Killed in Panama Exorcism Ritual
7 Killed in Panama
Exorcism Ritual

7 Killed in Panama Exorcism Ritual

Police say residents were rounded up by preachers

(Newser) - Seven people—including a pregnant woman and five of her children—were murdered by preachers in a remote area of Panama holding a bizarre ritual to make them "repent their sins," authorities say. Ten people, including the children's grandfather, were arrested in an area controlled by the...

Cult Leader Pushed Followers to 'Paradise.' Only It Wasn't

Shin Ok-ju jailed 6 years for assault, child abuse

(Newser) - A doomsday cult leader who told followers they could avoid impending war with an escape to Fiji has been jailed for six years. In 2014, some 400 people followed South Korea's Shin Ok-ju to what she claimed was "the only paradise land written in the Bible" and a...

Sex-Cult Founder Is Told His Fate
Sex-Cult Founder
Is Told His Fate

Sex-Cult Founder Is Told His Fate

Keith Raniere doesn't have the best day

(Newser) - Keith Raniere, the head of a New York state sex cult, was found guilty Wednesday on all counts, including racketeering—a charge that could send him to prison for life, New York Post reports. The 58-year-old co-founder of Nxivm spoke under his breath as the guilty verdicts were read, revealed...

Crossbow Deaths May Be 'Requested Killing and Suicide'
Crossbow Killings
Case Gets Weirder

Crossbow Killings Case Gets Weirder

Police suspect medieval sex cult murder-suicide

(Newser) - A weird twist in an already strange case: Police in Germany believe that three people killed with crossbows in a hotel were members of "a kind of sex circle with a focus on the Middle Ages," the AFP reports by way of RTL. A man identified as Torsten...

FDA: Church 'Miracle Cure' Is Highly Dangerous

Yet the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing marches on

(Newser) - Bleach drinkers, unite: Your savior is here. The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing plans to meet Saturday at a Washington state hotel to promote its "miracle" health cure—otherwise known as industrial bleach, the Guardian reports. The group's Facebook invitation seeks $450 per attendee or $800...

'Sex Cult' Co-Founder Pleads Guilty on Racketeering Charge

Feds unveil new NXIVM charges

(Newser) - Nancy Salzman, co-founder of an alleged sex cult that branded female followers with the initials of its leader, has pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in federal court in New York. The 64-year-old told the court Wednesday that she had hacked the email accounts of NXIVM's critics and...

Father of Victim in Grisly Mass Killing Speaks Out

Damon Decree Sr speaks up about the loss of his son

(Newser) - The father of a boy allegedly killed by his own mother and sister in a horrific mass murder is speaking out, ABC News reports. Damon Decree Sr's estranged wife Shana Decree, 45, and their daughter Dominique Decree, 19, are accused of killing Damon and Shana's 13-year-old boy Damon...

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