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Rosie DiManno: Horrifying allegations revealed in Brooklyn courtroom in ‘NXIVM’ sex cult trial

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Bright, privileged, talented, with the world at their feet.

And yet they fell to their knees in idolatrous thrall to a conman guru who demanded he be addressed as Vanguard and Grandmaster.

The lieutenant acolytes groomed and coerced a harem of sex slaves, including, allegedly, a 15-year-old girl, among a trio of sisters — one of whom he impregnated, one of whom was confined to a room for nearly two years, endlessly writing letters of apology for the crime of falling in love with another man. Because his anointed coterie of intimate partners could have sex only with him, even if they were married.

Heiresses and actresses, the granddaughter of a European royal, the son of a Mexican president, a Hollywood filmmaker — though males were outliers in the hierarchy of a cult community based in upstate New York, with tentacles that spread across the U.S. and into Central America.

A torrent of horrifying details were disclosed in a Brooklyn courtroom last week with the launch of a trial on a seven-count indictment of racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labour charges against Keith Raniere, the self-proclaimed "Divine" individual who compared himself to Einstein and Gandhi, claimed to be a mathematical genius with an IQ off the charts, concert-level pianist and judo champion, possessing powers to heal and affect the weather.

Underlying the charges are alleged acts of extortion, identity theft, possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.

"The defendant claims to be a leader but he was a con man,'' federal Assistant U.S. attorney Tanya Hajjar told the jury in her opening address. "He targeted people who were looking to improve their lives. He drew them in slowly with promises of success, of money, of better relationships, and once he gained their trust, he exploited it. The defendant said that he was a mentor but he was a predator.''

From his bucolic compound outside Albany, shaggy-haired Raniere ruled atop a sexual pyramid scheme which promoted........

© Peterborough Examiner