21 D.O.S. victims are set to receive more than $3M in restitution.
Keith Raniere of New York was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking and racketeering and sentenced to 120 years in sentence. At a federal restitution hearing held this month, a judge ordered Raniere to pay a total of more than $3.4 million to 21 victims of Raniere’s cult-like organization, Nxvim. Some of the money is intended to go towards having ceremonial brandings removed, which served as permanent pledges of loyalty Raniere.
Investigators said Raniere, who was known as “Vanguard,” was positioned at the top of a sex trafficking pyramid, with tiers of female “slaves,” each of whom could become a “master” to those beneath them. Smallville actress Allison Mack was also sentenced to three years in federal prison for her involvement as a leader within the cult and its crimes have been since featured in HBO’s The Vow.
“Virtually all low-ranking members of the cult-like following of Raniere called D.O.S. (an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions) were victims of a conspiracy involving forced labor,” the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, of Federal Court in Brooklyn, said, adding that they were also directed to perform sexual acts by “higher-ranking members” of the group.
D.O.S. members were required to provide to “masters” sensitive or embarrassing personal material called “collateral,” according to court records and testimony. “That material was then used to coerce compliance with orders, including some to seduce Mr. Raniere,” records show.
“About 100 people had submitted requests for restitution totaling about $33 million,” Judge Garaufis said. Prosecutors recommended that the court award restitution to 25 people, and Garaufis determined that 17 of those would receive this relief under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Another four victims will receive restitution under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996.
Sarah Edmondson, one of the first victims to publicly discuss the branding ceremonies, said she “disassociated out of my body” during the process. A woman identified only as Sylvie in court documents testified that she was ordered to have sex with Raniere and endure “lies and deceit and darkness.” And a woman identified as Daniela said Raniere “became jealous” when she rejected him and “caused her to be kept in a room for two years.” All three women will receive restitution. The largest amount was awarded to Daniela’s younger sister, Camila, who began being abused by Raniere when she was 15. Judge Garaufis said, “The defendant induced her to submit to pornographic photography sessions.”
“While restitution cases with a single victim and perpetrator, and one clear-cut crime, can be straightforward, Mr. Raniere’s case appeared to be particularly complex,” said Paul G. Cassell, a former federal judge in Utah and professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. “Here we have both issues of who is a victim, and once that’s sorted through, what are the compensable losses. Given the breadth of the charges and the number of people involved, this is one of the most complicated restitution cases I think I have ever seen.”
Prosecutors in the case submitted a memorandum to the court before Raniere’s sentencing including an interest in an $8 million estate of a deceased former partner, earnings from Nxivm, and proceeds from another organization he founded called Executive Success Programs. They have asked that these assets be forfeited.