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NXIVM defendants plead not guilty to sex trafficking

May 04, 2018 06:48 PM

Keith Raniere and Allison Mack were back in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday. Both pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking.

Raniere was the leader of a self-help group called NXIVM, based in Colonie. He was arrested on March 26. He and Mack are accused of coercing women to become sex slaves. Mack was arrested on April 20 and released on bail April 24.

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Raniere's attorney says the sex was consensual.

For someone accustomed to the spotlight, Mack did her best to ignore the crush of media on Friday. However, this is no red carpet.

Inside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, the 34-year-old actress faced her co-defendant: Keith Raniere, NXIVM's founder and so-called sex cult leader.

"Justice looks like the rest of the people that have helped him to facilitate this go to jail also. This snake has more than one head," commented Toni Natalie, Raniere's ex-girlfriend.

That's not just speculation from Raniere's one-time girlfriend. In open court, Prosecutors guaranteed additional arrests and charges. The defense countered that all the women involved acted on their own volition.

"It's still the United States of America and adults can engage in sexual relationships if they consent to them. I think what you're going to see is these were consenting adults who knew what they were doing and approved of it – and I think that's at the core of the sexual allegation in this matter," asserted Paul DerOhannesian, defense attorney.

Raniere's lawyers insist Mack won't accept a plea deal and then flip. However, the "Smallville" actress did not speak for herself.

"I think Allison should be held accountable for her actions. You get to a certain point where there's culpability," noted Natalie. "I don't think anyone goes into NXIVM and comes out the same way."

Raniere looked at Mack inside the courthouse on Friday but she did not return that eye contact. The co-defendants are due back in court June 12.

Credits

AP

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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