A New York man accused of running a cult-like group in which women were kept on starvation diets, branded with his initials and ordered to have sex with him has been found guilty of all charges against him.
Keith Raniere, 58, was charged with racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking, possession of child pornography and other crimes.
He faces a possible sentence of life in prison after he was convicted by a New York jury on Wednesday.
The jury in federal court in Brooklyn reached its verdict after just four hours of deliberation, capping off a trial that lasted more than six weeks.
Raniere's sentencing is set for September 25.
His lawyer Marc Agnifilo told reporters outside the courthouse that the verdict will be appealed. He said he believed a fair sentence would be less than life.
Raniere is the founder of Nxivm, a purported self-improvement organisation based in upstate New York.
Prosecutors said he created a secret sorority within Nxivm called DOS in which female "slaves" turned over compromising materials, such as nude photos, that could be used for blackmail.
They were told that the material would be released if they disobeyed orders or tried to leave, according to a former member and other witnesses.
DOS was sold to recruits as an all-female organisation, when in fact it was controlled by Raniere, according to former members who testified at the trial.
Outside the courthouse a group of former Nxivm members gave the prosecution team a round of applause.
Actor Catherine Oxenberg, who wrote a book about her efforts to rescue her daughter from Nxivm, called her daughter to tell her the verdict.
"She's in shock," Oxenberg said of her daughter. "I'm in shock as well. It's over. It's done."
Raniere was the "grandmaster" of an inner circle of slaves, who in turn recruited slaves of their own.
Some of those recruits were coerced into having sex with Raniere, and some were branded with his initials, according to former members.
"The trial has revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact a master manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organisation involving sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion, compelled abortion, branding, degradation and humiliation," US Attorney in Brooklyn Richard Donoghue told reporters outside of the courthouse.
"His crime, and the crimes of his co-conspirators, ruined marriages, careers, fortunes and lives."
© RAW 2019