A follow-up to a shocking story we reported on late last month: “Smallville” actress Allison Mack was arrested Friday for her apparent role in New York sex cult NXIVM. Prosecutors allege she recruited “slaves” to sleep with the group’s leader, Keith Raniere, and held them down as they were “branded” with his initials.
The New York Post reports:
A gaunt, disheveled Mack, 35, appeared in Brooklyn federal court Friday and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking and forced labor — a month after leader Keith Raniere was collared on the same charges.
Mack was Raniere’s direct “slave” and previously had a sexual relationship with him — but also acted as a “master” to other slaves, who were starved and branded like cattle.
As Raniere’s initials were being burned into their public regions with a cauterizing pen, Mack allegedly put her hands on their chests and told them to “feel the pain” and to “think of [their] master.”
The actress — who played Clark Kent’s pal Chloe Sullivan in the “Smallville” TV series about Superman’s origins — first lured female Nxivm members into the secret society known as The Vow by describing it as a “women’s empowerment group” and cajoled them into handing over “collateral” like embarrassing photos and statements to gain entry, prosecutors allege.
She then groomed the women for sex with Raniere, ordering them to adhere to extremely restrictive diets, refrain from removing their pubic hair and stay celibate, according to court documents.
“Ms. Mack was one of the top members of a highly organized scheme which was designed to provide sex to [Raniere],” Assistant US Attorney Moira Penza said in court Friday.
“Under the guise of female empowerment, she starved women until they fit her co-defendant’s sexual feminine ideal.”
She also forced them to pose naked for photos — “including on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas” — that were given to Raniere and also used as collateral, the feds charge.
“All mine?” he texted in response to one naked photo of all the slaves sent by Mack, according to prosecutors.
Mack and other slave “masters” allegedly made their slaves participate in “readiness” drills, requiring them to respond to requests at any time of the day or night so they were “seriously sleep-deprived.”
One of her slaves became so thin and tired that she stopped getting periods.
Prosecutors say they have e-mails from Mack pledging her “full and complete life” to Raniere and offering to “cement” the vow with her own collateral — including a contract promising him any children she ever has and her home if she breaks their agreement, and a letter to social services alleging that she abused her nephews.
Nxivm — pronounced “Nexium” — presents itself as a Landmark-style self-help program, and its workshops have attracted many high-profile figures, including British billionaire Richard Branson and the son of a former Mexican president.
Mack’s “Smallville” co-star Kristin Kreuk was also a member of Nxivm but ultimately left. She has said she never witnessed any wrongdoing in the group.
During Friday’s court appearance, it was revealed that Mack last year married “Battlestar Galactica” actress and Canadian national Nicki Clyne, who was spotted hiding out in Mexico with Mack and Raniere when authorities tracked down the cult leader last month.
Dressed in a light jean jacket, light brown boots and black pants, and sporting dark circles under her eyes, Mack spoke quietly as she answered the judge’s routine questions.
Judge Cheryl Pollak declined to release Mack from detention, saying her lawyers failed to offer a “sufficient” bail package given the serious charges. She said they could file a new petition Monday.
Mack’s attorneys argued that she was not a flight risk because she returned to the US voluntarily from Mexico.
“The allegations contained in the indictment are only that: allegations. The hard facts establish that she is not a risk of flight,” said attorney Sean Buckley.
But Pollak noted Mack may not have been aware that she was facing a minimum of 15 years behind bars — and a maximum of life in prison — at the time.
Prosecutors want a high dollar figure posted by someone with no affiliation to Nxivm — which is bankrolled by the heiresses to the Seagram’s whisky fortune, who are also devotees — and home detention.
They argued that Mack may be able to use the “collateral” to intimidate witnesses in the case, noting that “high-ranking” members of the group have already registered Web sites in potential witnesses’ names “with the intention of publishing damaging information” about them.
“She obviously has the ability to manipulate people,” Penza said.
“She has, based on the structure, a number of slaves underneath her who have pledged vows of obedience.”
Raniere was also indicted Friday but a date for his arraignment had not been set.