Nancy Salzman, the co-founder the NXIVM cult, where prosecutors say women were brainwashed, branded like animals and coerced into sex, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on Wednesday.
Salzman, who shared a close relationship with cult leader Keith Raniere, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in March 2019, received her sentence in a Brooklyn courtroom on Wednesday. Investigators say Nxivm was a sex-trafficking operation in the guise of a mentoring group.
Who is Nancy Salzman?
Salzman, a former nurse, served as the president of the cult-like self-help organization helmed by Raniere. The criminal aspects of the operation were exposed in 2018, according to the DOJ. Raniere was sentenced last October to 120 years in prison for turning several women into sex slaves branded with his initials, and sexually abusing a 15-year-old.
In July 2018, the court found that Salzman along with Raniere, Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, and her own daughter, Lauren Salzman, committed numerous crimes of identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
The following year, she pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy racketeering under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Facilitating Raniere's Crimes
Salzman served as Raniere's collaborator and enabler of the cult. Her crimes involved stealing identities of the group's critics and hacking into their email accounts from 2003 to 2008. In the sentencing memo from August, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar said that Salzman "disparaged or humiliated women and blamed victims of abuse" by helping spread Nxivm teachings.
The group attracted millionaires, including Seagram's liquor heir Clare Bronfman, and Hollywood actors, including Allison Mack of TV's "Smallville," reported The Associated Press.
Not Worth an Apology
Salzman admitted in court to stealing the email addresses and passwords of Nxivm critics. In a Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday, Salzman said that she was "horrified and shamed" to have ever promoted Raniere.
She was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying Raniere is a "narcissistic sociopath". For years she mistakenly believed him to be an "oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius," she said.
Salzman's attorneys said she now appreciates "the full weight of her wrongdoing while she served as Keith Raniere's collaborator and enabler" of the cult. However, Salzman claimed she, too, was a victim of the sick Svengali, telling Judge Nicholas Garaufis she didn't deserve to go to prison. But the jurist rejected her plea for leniency, reported the New York Post.
She will report to prison by January 19, 2022 and must pay a $150,000 fine.
One internet user said, "42 months is a joke and a slap in the face to what was perpetrated on young people by her directly." Another wrote, "Sickening judgment. We are so messed up on justice. What about the victims? Judges care not a bit."
Another user tweeted: "With the exception of the "master", I bet she walks within weeks like most of the other people involved in this case." Another read, "She deserves so much more. Devoid of conscience."