Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman is the financier behind sex cult Nxivm. Bronfman is attending the ongoing court proceedings alongside rumored second-in-command, Allison Mack.
Facing The Music
Leader Keith Raniere was also present Wednesday when the trio was brought back together to face charges of racketeering. Bronfman was a longtime Nxivm member, with her considerable fortune bankrolling much of the group's bizarre activities over the years.
She was spotted chatting amiably with Smallville actress Mack at the defense table. Raniere, known to his followers as Vanguard, did not make eye contact with either of the women as he was brought out to join them.
Bronfman was arrested Tuesday. She stands accused of committing identity theft of at least two women, and of illegally bringing another into the country.
Raniere and Mack, meanwhile, were arrested on sex trafficking charges earlier this year. They are alleged to have run a top-secret group, where members were forced to pleasure Raniere on demand and in certain cases, even having his initials permanently branded onto their skin.
The front for the group was a super secret feminist sect, headed by Mack, which aimed to make women more powerful in society. The duo was back in court Wednesday to be arraigned on the new charges, to which they both pleaded not guilty.
Mack looked annoyed throughout the proceedings, while Bronfman remained stony-faced. Her bail was set at a huge $100 million Tuesday, which allowed for home detention.
The Smallville star was released on house arrest for a $5 million bond. Raniere has so far remained in jail ahead of the trial, as per the presiding judge.
The trial date was pushed back from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, with the judge advising it will last from four to six weeks. Plea negotiations are ongoing, according to the federal prosecutor.
Making Her Mark
Bronfman is the multimillionaire heiress to the Seagram liquor empire. The 39-year-old aspiring Olympic show jumper was rumored to be the secret financier of Nxivm for months but was only confirmed this week.
According to her lawyer, Bronfman is not to blame for the Nxivm debacle, which gained international prominence earlier this year due to the lewd details of the case and Mack being a celebrity.
"Clare Bronfman did nothing wrong. Nxivm was not a criminal enterprise but instead was an organization that helped thousands of people. The charges against Clare are the result of government overreaching," she advised, noting they are confident she will be exonerated.
Bronfman has been involved with Nxivm for the past 15 years ever since she was introduced to their self-help teachings via her sister, Sara. The siblings later convinced their father Edgar to join, but he turned against Nxivm after he had learned that Clare gave them $2 million.
He described the group as a cult back in 2003 and confirmed he had not spoken to his daughters in months as a result of their involvement with it.
In 2010, Vanity Fair reported that around $150 million of the Bronfmans' fortunes had already gone to Nxivm. Of that amount, $66 million allegedly went to Raniere's failed best in the commodities markets, while millions more were spent on various lawsuits against the group's enemies.
In 2017, Bronfman rallied to the defense of the sex cult leader and his teachings.
"Determining the truth is extremely important to me, and I can say firmly that neither Nxivm nor Keith has abused or coerced anyone," she said at the time.
Raniere's lawyers previously argued that he is being persecuted by the morality police.