A.llison Mack, the actress best known for her starring role on the series Smallville, took a very different look at the woman who had come to the same Brooklyn courthouse in early 2018 to be indicted on charges of manipulating women to convert. on sex slaves in the nxivm Self-empowerment Group.
Back then, she was confident and smartly dressed – the image of a successful Hollywood actor. On Wednesday, she was bent over, her blonde hair obscuring her face, in a simple dress that resembled a penitent’s sack.
At the time, she did not know if she would be sentenced to up to 17 years, as the sentencing guidelines offered, or up to 40 years at the discretion of the court. Or as prosecutors recommended after Mack pleaded guilty and began cooperating with the government, something much less.
In the end, the 39-year-old Mack was sentenced to three years and three years of probation. Plus a fine and 1,000 hours of community service. “From the bottom of my heart and soul, I am sorry,” he told the court, reiterating an apology he made to the victims earlier in the week.
Before sentencing, Judge Nicholas Garaufis outlined his situation by sentencing Mack, who, the court accepted, had been both a victim and an executor of Keith Raniere, the founder of Nxivm. Mack served as “front-line master” in Dominus Obsequious Sororium, or Master Over Slave Women, a subgroup created by Raniere that required recruits to serve as “slaves.”
Raniere himself was sentenced to 120 years last year.
How Mack fell into Raniere’s service, and in turn became one of Nxivm’s highest-ranking exponents and abusers, has been linked to other high-profile criminal sexual abuse cases, including those against Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey. Epstein. It was a story of abuse, power, and enrichment that left a trail of victims with lives forever changed.
But in one crucial respect, they are different: Mack did not need power or wealth. As a celebrity, he had both. Instead, she became Raniere’s consigliere through the appeal of self-improvement, self-activation, self-actualization, or, in today’s terms, “well-being.”
Mack had “willingly enslaved, destabilized and manipulated” the women, Garaufis said from the bench.
“You were able to use your status as a well-known public figure to gain credibility and influence with the Nxivm and DOS recruits,” he said. “You took advantage of your celebrity and the enthusiasm of these people to be around you, you told them you were going to recruit them for a sorority of ’empowerment of women’ and you distorted and concealed the fundamental facts about the organization.”
What was missing from any preview of the membership, prosecutors alleged, was that the group qualified the women, forced them to engage in sexual acts and prepared sexual partners for Raniere.
But Garaufis accepted Mack’s tearful statement – “I renounce Keith Raniere and all his teachings” – outlining his cooperation in prosecuting Raniere, his efforts toward rehabilitation and his attempts to apologize to the victims.
For victims, that might not be enough.
Jessica Joan, who enrolled in an Executive Success Program (ESP) through Nxivm and is subsequently listed as “Jane Doe 2” on RaniereThe arrest warrant, which helped in the case against both, rejected Mack’s apology, calling her “an evil sociopath, a threat to society and a danger to innocent human beings” in a victim impact statement.
“I would say that I am disappointed. I respect the judge, but personally I would have felt more vindicated with a harsher sentence, “Joan told The Guardian. “Allison has the ability to cause damage and devastation. She was 100% a conscious perpetrator with malicious intent, but I can’t deny that she was also Keith’s victim.”
According to a profile in the hollywood reporter, Mack joined the group in 2006 after attending a two-day introduction to Jness, a women’s movement workshop within Nxivm. He was 23 years old and was filming Smallville at the time.
Former Nxivm members have said that Raniere instructed the members to roll out the red carpet and bomb Mack. After several days, and after being told that Raniere could help her in her career, the actress accepted an invitation to visit the group’s headquarters in Albany, New York.
Mack flew in a private jet to Albany to meet Raniere in person. She stayed, moving up to the second highest spot in the group.
Among the coercive measures that DOS applied to its victims were starvation and the obtaining of blackmail material in the form of sex tapes and, in the case of a woman identified only as Nicole, a letter in which she falsely claimed that her father he had sexually abused. Standing out among these methods was marking recruits with an amalgam of Mack and Raniere’s initials with a hot cauterizing pen, a tactic sometimes administered forcefully and without consent.
In a recording that Mack gave to prosecutors, Raniere can be heard asking him, “Do you think the person being marked should be completely naked and restrained to the table as some kind of, almost, like a sacrifice?”
That someone submit to, or tolerate, such an act seems unimaginable. But DOS, and Nxivm in general, were powerful groups that attracted many and came to dominate their members.
For many, the offer of help with personal and professional advancement, even at the cost of thousands of dollars in fees, was irresistible. “They presented a curriculum that allowed him to become a high-caliber, high-performing person, realizing his potential. That sounded great to me. I was being held for my trauma, including sexual abuse. Allison said she would guide me. I thought there were things he could help me with, ”Joan said.
Mack wasn’t the only high-profile supporter of the cult.
Few proved as vulnerable to Nxivm’s allure as Seagram’s heiresses Clare and Sarah Bronfman, who each contributed $ 100 million to the group. Clare Bronfman, who was not directly associated with DOS operations and refused to resign from Raniere, is currently serving an 81-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2019 to conspiring to hide and house an undocumented immigrant for profit; Sarah, who partially resigned from the group and was not charged, is believed to be in Portugal.
Mack, who was born in 1982 to American parents in Preetz, Germany, and began acting in commercials at age four, was approached at 18 to audition for Smallville for the role of proto Lois Lane.
Around the time of the show’s fifth season, he attended his first Jness / Nxivm meeting. Over time he began to reject friends who did not join the group and became increasingly insular. Soon she was completely absorbed by the group.
In court, Mack described his own behavior as “abusive, abhorrent and illegal.”
But to Joan, those words were strikingly similar to the letter she had received from Mack. “[They were] many widespread and mediocre apologies without depth or authenticity, ”he said.
Last Wednesday, Joan said, Mack had simply offered the same “but with tears.”