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Jury selection begins for last-standing NXIVM defendant

April 22, 2019 06:31 PM

The process of selecting a jury for the trial of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere began on Monday. Raniere is accused of forming a secret society and recruiting women as sex slaves.

The jury selection underway on the fourth floor of the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn sort of marks the beginning of the final chapter in Raniere's story.

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Most of the jurors dismissed on Monday claimed financial hardship if the trial were to last the expected six weeks.

Several of the jurors told the judge they would feel uncomfortable listening to young girls testifying about alleged sexual relationships they had with Raniere.

Some of the girls were as young as 12 or 13 years old and some may have had abortions.

Raniere is the lone remaining defendant in what was once an alleged conspiracy involving six co-defendants.

One of the other high-profile members of the cult-like organization, Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman pleaded guilty on Friday along with longtime bookkeeper Kathy Russell.

Three other defendants, actress Allison Mack, and Nancy and Lauren Salzman have also pleaded guilty to various crimes. They are awaiting sentencing. That means Raniere will stand trial alone on federal racketeering charges.

NXIVM, which operated in Colonie, billed itself as a self-help organization offering workshops that promised self-fulfillment. However, it allegedly had a dark side where some women were recruited into a secret order within the organization branded on their thighs with Keith Raniere's initials and coerced into having sex with him.

Federal officials have filed wide-ranging charges against Raniere and other NXIVM officials. An indictment unsealed last year accused Raniere and five women of running a racketeering enterprise that involved identity theft, money laundering, sex trafficking and extortion.

Raniere has denied all charges in this case. His attorney said last Friday they would go to trial.

Hear about some of what has gone on during the jury selection process – and who might testify, by watching the video of Dan Levy's story.

Credits

Dan Levy

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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