BROOKLYN (CN) — A former "Smallville" actress who recruited members to join a sex cult that disfigured female member's genitals with branding irons and collected naked photos as collateral was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison.
Allison Mack, 38, was sentenced in Brooklyn this afternoon over two years after she admitted to her role in what was essentially a pyramid scheme built on sex slaves in the purported self-help group NXIVM (pronounced Nexium), founded by Keith Raniere.
With Mack as "first-line master" in a subgroup of NXIVM called DOS or the Vow, female recruits were instructed to have sex with Raniere, and many of them were branded with Raniere’s initials.
“You were an essential accomplice,” U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said to Mack before handing down her sentence, noting that testimony had shown Mack to be a “willing and proactive ally” who debased victims with “creative enthusiasm.”
Mack was arrested in April 2018 at her home in Brooklyn, eventually pleading guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and racketeering, and racketeering acts of extortion and forced labor.
Complicating her sentencing, however, Garaufis noted that Mack was also a victim of Raniere’s, a slave herself in the scheme she co-ran. He commended Mack for reconnecting with her family in California, where she awaited sentencing in home confinement, and agreed to request that Mack be placed in a prison near her family home in Long Beach.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Hajjar said that Mack’s cooperation, which began a month before Raniere’s trial, was instrumental in his prosecution.
“I want to emphasize the significance of cooperation in an investigation like this,” Hajjar said, noting that DOS by definition operated in secrecy.
For example, a recording Mack provided to prosecutors revealed Raniere devising the branding ceremony for women coerced into having sex with him.
“Laying on the back, legs slightly, or legs spread straight like, like feet, feet being held to the side of the table, hands probably above the head being held, almost like being tied down, like sacrificial, whatever,” Raniere said, according to court documents.
“OK,” Mack replied.
In a sentencing memo, Mack’s attorneys asked the court to sentence her to probation only, noting that since her arrest, she has gotten an associate’s degree from a California community college and is now taking classes at the University of California, Berkeley, working toward her bachelor’s degree.
The bid to avoid prison was unsuccessful, but the three-year sentence fell below the 14- to 17.5-year sentencing range calculated by the government. Mack had faced a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Mack, wearing short-sleeved black dress, turned around and smiled at family members present in court following her sentencing. She blew them a kiss through her cream-colored cloth face mask, printed with lemons and leaves, and sat down as her attorney, Sean S. Buckley, patted her on the back.
Jessica Joan, known throughout the NXIVM trial as “Jay,” addressed the court wearing a white suit as she gave a victim impact statement, calling Mack a “predator and an evil human being” with no remorse.
Joan, a sexual assault survivor, said Mack preyed upon her past trauma when recruiting her into joining DOS, which Mack had pitched as a “women’s mentorship group.”
Mack told victims that they could only join if they provided collateral, like naked photos, sexually explicit videos and false allegations of sexual abuse by family members.
She then instructed some of them to “seduce” Raniere, and take a picture for proof. One victim, Nicole, was blindfolded and tied to a table while another woman performed oral sex on her in front on Raniere, who called her “very brave” and told her not to tell anyone what had happened.
“She took great pride and joy knowing she had total control,” Joan said of Mack. “She is the Ghislaine Maxwell to Keith’s Jeffrey Epstein.”
A second victim, Tabitha Chapman, who appeared by video, expressed more empathy for Mack. She described verbal and emotional abuse by Mack, including public humiliation.
"I am heartbroken for you and I am heartbroken for all of the women that trusted you and were harmed," Chapman said.
In tears, Mack told the court she was sorry to her victims, their families, and her own family.
“My behavior while in DOS was abusive, abhorrent and illegal,” Mack said. “I understand that what I chose cannot be undone.”
Garaufis set a surrender date of September 29, allowing Mack to return home with her family, and ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation and to perform 1,000 hours of community service.Follow @NinaPullano
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