These marks given to victims were said to be a rite of passage, required to enter a sect within Nxivm called the Vow or DOS. To join, the women said, “Master, please brand me, it would be an honour”, before someone else would burn Raniere’s initials onto their skin.
In 2017, a victim and restitution recipient, Sarah Edmondson, told The New York Times that during it she “disassociated out of my body”. She was one of the first victims to speak about her experience on the record.
“Virtually all low-ranking members of DOS were victims of a conspiracy,” said Judge Nicholas G Garaufis at a federal court in Brooklyn on 20 July.
Judge Garaufis elaborated that the women were forced into doing things by “higher ranking members”.
It is believed that Raniere would bring in celebrity names to attract people to join. For example, the actor Alison Mack, who starred in the television series Smallville, was sentenced to three years for her involvement in Nxivm last month. According to court documents, she told potential recruits that the DOS was a female empowerment organisation. She was known as a “master” with the group.
Building on this, court documents show that lower ranking members of DOS were referred to as “slaves” and they were forced to give their “masters” sensitive personal material, which was referred to as “collateral”. This is believed to force people into acts they would have not otherwise done, including “seduce” Raniere.
Raniere was convicted in November last year and was granted a 120 year sentence. He was found guilty on charges relating to sex trafficking and racketeering. During this hearing related to restitution, he appeared via video link from prison in Arizona.
It is estimated that 100 victims requested a total of $33 million in restitution. These included a business consultant, family members of victims and members of DOS.
The largest single payment to one individual is $507,997, which was awarded to a victim known only as Camila. She is believed to have been sexually abused by Raniere since she was 15, according to documents. Camila’s sister Daniela was also involved with Raniere’s crimes. She said during the trial that he had kept her in a room for two years.
Additional complications could present themselves, as it unclear if Raniere can afford to pay the $3.4 million. After being asked by Judge Garafulis if he had any comment, he told the court, “I have never handled the collateral. I know nothing about it”.
Prosecutors asserted that Raniere owns a share of an $8 million property and has earnings from both Nxivm and another business called Executive Success Programs.