What to Know
- 'Smallville' actress Allison Mack was arrested by the FBI last month in a sex cult case; she was released on $5 million bail Monday
- She pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case against Keith Raniere, founder of a group called Nxivm
- Authorities allege Raniere ran the group as a sex cult; Mack has been widely described as a key associate of his
More people are expected to be indicted in the sex cult case that already includes a television actress and an accused cult leader among the charged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza told a judge Friday that the government plans to file a new indictment naming more defendants, but he didn't go into specifics.
Allison Mack, an actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend on TV, has been accused of recruiting unsuspecting women as sex slaves for alleged cult leader Keith Raniere. Both Mack, 35, and Raniere appeared at Friday's hearing and both have denied wrongdoing in the case.
Mack, who was arrested in April for allegedly recruiting slaves into a pyramid scheme for Raniere's benefit, was met with a media scrum as she and her attorneys headed into the courthouse Friday morning. She said nothing to reporters as she clutched the arms of her attorneys on their way inside. Her attorneys did not comment either. It wasn't clear if they spoke after.
Mack was released on $5 million bail after a recent court appearance. Arrangements are being made for her to be on house arrest in California.
She and her attorneys have been involved in plea negotiation talks with federal prosecutors, according to a recently obtained court document. A plea would likely avoid a blockbluster celebrity trial in the heart of Brooklyn.
Her publicist has said "no comment" on the case.
An attorney for Raniere, who has been held without bail since his March extradition from Mexico, said after court that all sex acts were consensual and his client is innocent.
Authorities have said Mack she was a major player in Raniere's cult-like organization called NXIVM (pronounced Nex-i-um), helping to add unsuspecting women to what was purported to be a mentorship group.
Prosecutors have said Mack stood at the level directly below Raniere in a pyramid scheme called DOS, into which she recruited fresh slaves. The government alleges that Mack forced those slaves to have sex with Raniere in exchange for what were described as "financial and other benefits."
Prosecutors said she required women she recruited to engage in sexual activity with Raniere, who paid Mack in return.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Kim Penza said in court that that "under the guise of female empowerment" Mack "starved women until they fit her co-defendant's sexual ideal."
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In a letter attributed to Raniere -- who was arrested in Mexico and returned to the United States in March -- previously posted on a website related to NXIVM, he denied the practices were sanctioned by the self-described self-help group.
The complaint against Raniere - known in the group as "Vanguard" - said that many victims participated in videotaped ceremonies where they were branded in their pelvic area with a symbol featuring Raniere's initials.
"During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and the master would order one slave to film while the other held down the slave being branded," the complaint says.
Raniere left the United States late last year after The New York Times reported the stories of some women who defected from their secret sorority and the government began interviewing potential witnesses. He sought to cover this trail by using encrypted email and ditching his phone, court papers say.
At the time of Raniere's capture, Mack was living with him at a luxury villa in Puerto Vallarta, according to court papers.
Both Raniere and Mack face charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy in addition to sex trafficking, for which they could receive 15 years to life in prison.