NXIVM founder Keith Raniere arraigned, pleads not guilty to sex trafficking, forced labor
The leader of a local organization stood in front of a federal judge today - to answer to charges of sex trafficking.
Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM, is accused of coercing women into being sex slaves.
He was arrested in Texas, and extradited to New York City.
This Friday the 13th court appearance for Keith Raniere lasted less than 5 minutes, but several people who say they've been impacted here still made the journey to see him face a judge.
"He said to me, i will see you dead or in jail, so he got half of it right, he saw me again and I saw him, only he's in jail."
The look of relief on Toni Natalie's face is clear... She's the ex-girlfriend of Keith Raniere, the founder of the Albany-based self-help group NXIVM who's now in federal custody facing charges of sex trafficking and forced labor.
“This is just the beginning of what needs to happen to stop the reign of terror that Keith Raniere and nxivm has brought."
The complaint against Raniere says women, including an actress who lived here in Brooklyn, were recruited to be part of the secret society as sex slaves.
Court documents say the women were told they had to provide damaging material as collateral for their silence, and even brand themselves with Raniere's initials. It's alleged they were given tasks to perform for other NXIVM members -- anything from running errands and doing chores -- to having sex with Raniere.
"He'll justify any abuse, and he finally needs to be held accountable."
Last month the FBI raided the Clifton Park home of Raniere's business partner Nancy Salzman, as well as a townhome in Clifton Park. Among other things, more than $500,000 in cash was seized. Raniere's defense team says no non-consensual activity occurred, and they look forward to proving their client innocent.
Marc Agnifilo, Raniere's attorney, said "the answers are going to come in a courtroom - he's plead not guilty and our position is he's not guilty of the charges."
Paul Derohannesian, Raniere's attorney, added, “I think this case is going to give us the opportunity to explain a lot more than the public has heard"
Catherine Oxenberg says her daughter, a NXIVM member, has fallen victim to Raniere's influence, and she wants justice to prevail.
“This is a very personal fight for me - he is where he deserves to be, behind bars for the rest of his life."
A permanent order of detention was issued by the court, so there is no bail for Raniere. His attorney said they expect an indictment sometime in the near future.
Raniere's next court appearance is April 27 at 11 a.m.