Culture

Who is Keith Raniere of Nxivm? Series Based on Alleged Sex Cult Possibly in the Works

A TV series based on Keith Raniere’s alleged sex cult may soon be in the works. Annapurna Television recently optioned the rights to New York Times reporter Barry Meier’s 2017 report, Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded, which exposed Raniere’s secret society within his company Nxivm, according to a Wednesday report published by The Hollywood Reporter.

The untitled hour-long series is slated to be a fictionalized project inspired by true events, and the potential storyline will reportedly follow the chain of events that take place after women are coerced into joining a group believed to be a secret sisterhood aimed at teaching female empowerment. But soon after joining the organization, they become psychologically entranced by the cult’s leader, who turns them into sex slaves, abuses them and brands their flesh with his initials.

No network is attached to the project as of yet. However, Westworld’s Shannon Woodward is expected to produce the series, along with Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and Susan Goldberg.

Raniere, referred to as “The Vanguard” to members of Nxivm, was arrested on sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy charges in March. He was reportedly known for branding women sucked into his secret society web.

Nxivm operated under the cover of a self-help organization based in Albany, New York. Established by Raniere and Nancy Salzman in 1998, the company’s website says the group is a “community guided by humanitarian principals that seek to empower people” and offers “Executive Success Programs” to people in New York, California, Mexico, Canada and other areas.

Raniere created a sub-sect of Nxivm in 2015, dubbed “DOS,” which translates to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions” or “The Vow.” A Department of Justice press release regarding Raniere’s arrest in March said the group operated on a pyramid scheme, with levels of female “slaves” controlled by “masters.” After the master chose a slave, the slave was expected to recruit their own slaves, which essentially turned them into masters. Slaves were expected to answer to the master that enslaved them and the masters above them.

“As alleged, Keith Raniere displayed a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves,” FBI’s New York Field Office Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said at the time of Raniere’s arrest. “He allegedly participated in horrifying acts of branding and burning them, with the cooperation of other women operating within this unorthodox pyramid scheme. These serious crimes against humanity are not only shocking, but disconcerting to say the least, and we are putting an end to this torture today.”

Smallville actress Allison Mack was arrested last week for her connection to the alleged sex cult. She was released on a $5 million bond Tuesday.

Who is Keith Raniere? Actress Allison Mack leaves U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York after a bail hearing, April 24, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. A show based on Keith Raniere's sex cult may be in the works, according to reports on April 25, 2018. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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