Smallville actress Allison Mack will face trial for her involvement in the group NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”), a reported “sex cult.” This news comes as Mack and her co-defendant, NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, appeared before a federal judge this morning in New York. The trial is set to begin on October 1.
This marks the first time Mack has seen Raniere since his arrest in Mexico back in March. Mack herself was arrested and charged in April and was released on a $5 million bond, under the conditions that she remains under house arrest and refrains from speaking with or seeing anyone involved in the group. That bond was provided by her mother, who has remained supportive over the course of the proceedings.
Both Mack and Raniere face charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor. If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, with a possibility of a life sentence.
According to The Daily Mail, Mack spoke very little during Friday’s court proceedings and avoided eye contact with Raniere, while he reportedly tried several times to catch her eye.
Raniere’s attorneys entered a plea of not guilty for the leader, known to followers as “Vanguard.” Mack did not enter a plea as she is still in negotiations with the U.S. Attorney, and may still enter into a plea deal for a reduced sentence.
Mack and Raniere face these charges due to their involvement in the NXIVM sub-group known as DOS (reportedly “Dominant Over Submissive”) which utilized a pyramid structure of Slaves and Masters. DOS was billed to recruits as a “women’s empowerment group” and Raniere’s involvement was kept secret from participants. Raniere, however, operated as the apex of that pyramid, with Mack as his direct Slave, and she Master to several Slaved beneath her.
As part of the group’s activities, Slaves were forced to perform “acts of care” for their Masters, which usually involved errands and other items akin to the work of a personal assistant. Court documents, though, outline more devious acts forced on the Slaves, including several women who claim they were forced to perform sexual acts with Raniere.
Raniere’s attorneys implied they would argue that those acts were consensual.
Members were also forced to undergo a painful branding ceremony in which a cauterizing tool was used to carve a brand in the shape of Raniere’s initials into the skin on their pelvis.
Mack had joined the group back in 2005 after attending a number of self-help workshops. She has been involved actively ever since and helped create The Source, a workshop for actors. A search through Mack’s social media accounts finds several attempts to recruit women, sometimes high profile, to another “women’s empowerment” group known as Jness. That group seems to have gone defunct, at least online, in 2016.
A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for June, but Mack’s attorneys say they will petition the court to allow the actress to skip all pre-trial court appearances.
An A&E documentary series is set to premiere on May 29. The two-episode opener will document the rise of NXIVM, speaking to former members of the cult, including one woman who participated in the branding ceremonies.