NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has denied bail for the founder of a purported self-help group who’s accused of sex-trafficking and branding women with his initials.
Keith Raniere appeared Tuesday in a Brooklyn court.
Prosecutors accuse Raniere of forming a barbaric secret society within NXIVM (NEHK’-see-um), a group that over the years has attracted a following of minor celebrities and wealthy people.
The prosecutors allege the sub-group branded brainwashed victims with Raniere’s initials during initiation ceremonies that turned them into his sex slaves.
The defense says the women were never abused.
NXIVM announced on its website that it has temporarily suspended operations.
Actress Allison Mack, charged with helping Raniere, also was in court.
Mack played a teenage friend of Superman in the CW network’s “Smallville.” She’s pleaded not guilty and is free on $5 million bond.
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