Vancouver actress blindfolded and branded as part of alleged sex cult ceremony: reports
All of it reportedly happened to Vancouver actress Sarah Edmondson.
And it allegedly happened as part of a secret ceremony held by NXIVM, a “purported self-help organization” whose leader is alleged to have “denigrated and manipulated” women he considered his “sex slaves.”
WATCH: FBI raid home of NXIVM co-founder following arrest of Keith Raniere, alleged ‘sex cult’ leader
Edmondson, a former member of NXIVM, partook in the ceremony in New York last year, reports say.
She won’t say much about the organization right now.
But she told Global News she’s aware of the arrest of NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, also known as The Vanguard, after he was deported from Mexico to Texas to face charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labour conspiracy.
Edmondson said she’ll talk when her lawyer gives her the green light.
In a Monday news release, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Raniere created a secret society in which he had sex with women and branded them with his initials.
Raniere was also alleged to have coerced women “with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets.”
The FBI led an investigation into Raniere, with help from the New York State Police, the Mexican Federal Police and the New York State Office of the Attorney General, among others.
“As alleged, Keith Raniere displayed a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves,” William F. Sweeney Jr., the assistance director-in-charge of the New York field office of the FBI, said in a statement.
“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.”
The DOJ alleged that Raniere established a series of self-help workshops known as “Executive Success Programs” within NXIVM.
Those courses cost thousands of dollars, and people who participated in them were encouraged to pay for more classes and thus rise within the organization’s ranks — thus maintaining the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.
Raniere allegedly established “DOS,” a secret society within NXIVM, in 2015, the DOJ said.
This society allegedly operated with levels of women who acted as “slaves” who were headed by “masters,” with Raniere at the top of the pyramid.
Before joining DOS, women had to provide “collateral” that included “highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets.”
Slaves were branded in their pelvic areas with a cauterizing pen, and the brands incorporated Raniere’s own initials, unbeknownst to the slaves, the DOJ alleged.
Slaves would be completely naked in branding ceremonies; a master would order one slave to film while others restrained the one being branded, the release alleged.
The charges are only allegations that have not been proven in court, the DOJ noted. Raniere is presumed innocent unless he’s been proven guilty.
He faces a minimum 15-year sentence up to life imprisonment if he’s convicted.
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