The sentencing took much of the day on Tuesday. Victim impact statements were limited to 15. Many victims argued in favor of a life sentence, as enough Raniere supporters remain to fuel NXIVM going forward. They said they were afraid of what Raniere would be capable of if he isn’t locked up forever.
“The world sees your lies,” said victim Sarah Edmondson.
Before the sentence was handed down, Raniere still said he was completely not guilty, and even that the victims were lying. Though he said he was sorry for the pain he caused, he said did not commit the crimes he was convicted of.
“I do believe I am innocent of the charges,” Raniere said. “It is true I am not remorseful of the crimes I do not believe I committed at all.”
Finally, he asked his victims for forgiveness while maintaining his innocence.
The defense tried to sell the judge on a 20-year sentence, arguing that Raniere thought he was doing good things while heading the cult. But the judge agreed with the prosecution that it doesn’t matter whether an abuser believes that they’re causing harm.
Multiple victims who spoke shared suicidal thoughts following their incidents with Raniere. Camila—who says she was only 15 when Raniere raped her—reflected on her experience as one of the many in his harem. She said, “To brand someone you allegedly care about should never be normal.” She was referring to the symbol resembling Raniere’s initials, which was burned into the flesh of those in the DOS secret society within NXIVM.
The judge decided that—because Raniere’s crimes were cruel, perverse, and left a lasting effect on victims, combined with his lack of remorse—a serious sentence was necessary.
“Certainly, the judge’s sentence—which, in effect, incapacitates Keith Raniere for the rest of his life—should hopefully give them some sense of security, and should stand as a warning to others who would participate in similar, like conduct that when justice catches up with you, as it did today, it is severe.” said Seth Ducharme, Acting U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District.
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