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Allison Mack Asks for Zero Jail Time in NXIVM Sex Cult Case; Says She’s Suffered Enough from Keith ‘Raniere’s Lies and Manipulations’


Former “Smallville” actress and NXIVM sex cult member Allison Mack is asking for zero jail time after pleading guilty to two federal charges connected to her activities with the now-fractured group.  That’s according to a sentencing memorandum her defense attorneys filed in federal court late Friday — a document which reads like a thesaurus of insults hurled in copious quantities toward former NXIVM leader Keith Raniere and which contains a letter to NXIVM’s victims penned by Mack herself.

Mack, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, “provided substantial assistance to the government” in cases against certain co-defendants, federal prosecutors wrote in a recent sentencing memorandum of their own.  The government, therefore, is seeking a sentence “below” the standard 168 to 210 months (14 to 17.5 years) Mack would normally face.

Mack’s attorneys followed on Friday by asking for a “sentence without incarceration” that would allow their client to “continue her academic studies” and “continue down [a] path of growth and reform” in her post-NXIVM life.

Keith Raniere and Allison Mack.

The defense motion kicks off in a manner which calls Mack’s criminal case an “intervention” by her own victims and by federal prosecutors:

Because of the intervention by the victims of Nxivm and DOS, law enforcement, and this Court, in the last three years Allison Mack has turned her life around and earnestly dedicated herself to rehabilitation, renunciation of Keith Raniere and those who supported him, and making amends. She is now well on her way to once again being a productive member of society. Since being freed from the twisting influence of Raniere, Ms. Mack has re-devoted herself to pursuing a positive and constructive life, centered around the three pillars of family, education, and healing.

Raniere, the group’s leader, was sentenced to 120 years in prison — effectively a life sentence for the 60-year-old disgraced guru — while Seagrams liquor heiress and admitted collaborator Clare Bronfman was separately sentenced to serve six years and nine months.  Other mid-level members of the group have also admitted guilt in their own various criminal cases.

Mack’s sentencing memorandum does not speak kindly of Raniere:

The primary, and most important, factor in her rehabilitation has been her family. Where once Raniere commanded Ms. Mack’s complete devotion and fealty to the exclusion of all others, Ms. Mack has now reintegrated into the life of her family, seeking out and offering support in a way that would have been unthinkable three years ago. Ms. Mack has recognized that if she is ever to fully return to herself, her family has an integral role to play, and she has turned those sentiments into action.

The digs at Raniere continue later on in the document:

None of these things can justify Ms. Mack’s past actions, or erase the harm done to the victims. Ms. Mack will justifiably live with the resulting scorn and guilt for the rest of her life. However, having been finally removed from Raniere’s grip by these very proceedings and the unwavering support of her family and friends that they have engendered, Ms. Mack has regained the clarity she had lost as a member of Nxivm—clarity to see past Raniere’s lies and manipulations, and to understand the incalculable harm caused by the group she was a part of. That is why she pled guilty and worked to assist the Government in its prosecution of Raniere and others, and it is why she will appear before the Court for sentencing at peace with whatever sentence the Court imposes to atone for the wrongs in which she participated.

However, the memorandum speaks glowingly of Mack’s efforts to secure a college education:

Ms. Mack has also pursued an academic path previously set aside in service of her acting career, by obtaining an associate’s degree at a community college in California, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. As her professors describe, Ms. Mack has been a model student who not only excels personally but elevates the students around her. And Ms. Mack recently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at the University of California, Berkeley to continue her studies. At the same time, she has been working as a caterer (pandemic and other restrictions permitting), and in the future looks towards continuing her education to become a contributing member of society. Ms. Mack has undertaken these pursuits because, here too, she recognizes that education and work are necessary to her ongoing recovery under the supervision of this Court.

“Ms. Mack has come to recognize the pain her actions have caused and she has learned how to channel her remorse and grief into positive actions — most notably her reinforced devotion to family and education,” the memorandum continues.

It also speaks rather negatively of Mack’s career path as an actress and model — a path the document says Mack’s mother established for her from a young age. (Her father was a professional opera singer.)

“It is no secret that the life of a child performer can involve experiences, and create stresses, that impact development,” the document reads. It asserts that Mack saw her family only “intermittently” during the filming of “Smallville, but significant portions of the document are blacked out and thus obscure many details of her life.

“Despite the material and professional success that Ms. Mack had achieved in her acting career, Ms. Mack was plagued by feelings of hollowness and a lack of purpose,” the memorandum says.

According to the document, Mack became involved with NXIVM while still part of the “Smallville” cast. When the show ended, she moved to New York City, then to the Albany, N.Y. area where Raniere lived and NXIVM was headquartered.

Keith Raniere

“However, Ms. Mack’s family soon began to see troubling changes,” the memorandum asserts.  “As related by her brother . . . Ms. Mack appeared physically depleted by her lifestyle in Nxivm.  This only became more pronounced as time went on.”

Her brother related the following story — which is now contained in the sentencing recommendation:

In 2016, she came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner claiming that she was on day 7 of a ten day cleanse and ate absolutely nothing. She was almost in a daze the whole time. She would often absent herself to have a phone or video call with her “people” in New York. While she acted caring and loving, it was clear that she was in an unhealthy situation that was taking a toll on her.

Here, Mack’s attorneys again blame Raniere as the more culpable culprit, citing many details from a pre-sentence investigation report:

By 2016, there was a very specific reason for Ms. Mack’s deteriorating condition. The prior year, Raniere had created an organization called “Dominus Obsequious Sororium,” or DOS for short, which is bastardized Latin intended to mean “Master of the Obedient Female Companions.” DOS was comprised of female members, except for Raniere (whose involvement was to remain secret from Nxivm and anyone outside of the original group of DOS members he recruited), who constructed the organization to his own specifications to create modern-day harem for himself. The system created by Raniere set up so-called “masters” and so- called “slaves” recruited to join the organization.

[Part of the conclusion of the paragraph is blacked out in the public docket, but the description continues.]

At its conception, Ms. Mack (wrongly) understood DOS to be an organization designed to empower women. As more people became involved in DOS, however, Raniere’s demands and directives to his “slaves” increased and became depraved and sadistic. One of those directives was for initiates to provide an ever-increasing amount of “collateral” to DOS, in the form of compromising photos, videos, or written confessions (both true and false) of damaging facts. This “collateral” was meant to demonstrate an initiate’s commitment to the organization. Ms. Mack herself was compelled to provide collateral to Raniere, thus handing Raniere a cudgel that could be wielded to keep her in line. Upon Ms. Mack’s delivery of collateral, Raniere had thus obtained control over Ms. Mack, and used that control to impose his will on her and others in DOS.

“Her brainwashing complete, Ms. Mack acquiesced in Raniere’s sick fantasies and, to her unending regret, became a ‘master’ as well as Raniere’s ‘slave,'” the document continues.  “The fact that Raniere was able to turn Ms. Mack into an agent of trauma is appalling, but consistent with the structure and function of cults like Nxivm.”

Again, Mack’s attorneys turned up the heat on Raniere — all while expressing regret over what occurred:

In pleading guilty in this matter, Ms. Mack acknowledged the wrongs and trauma inflicted on Jane Does 5 and 8 which resulted from her involvement with Raniere, whether through Nxivm, DOS, or both. The activities that Ms. Mack was involved in are set forth at length in the PSR and the Government’s sentencing submission, they were described at the trial of Raniere; Ms. Mack does not dispute or reprise them here.1 Now that the blinders of the Nxivm cult have been removed, Ms. Mack recognizes that her actions were abhorrent. The Allison Mack of today barely recognizes who she was during those dark times.

Mack’s attorneys say she perceives her arrest on April 20, 2018 in Brooklyn as “the best thing that could have happened to her at that time.”

“Ms. Mack told the government everything she knew about Raniere, his co-conspirators, and the organization he had created,” the memorandum says.

A friend provided these words to describe what Mack’s attorneys call her “transformation” into a a person who “does not recognize the Allison Mack of three years ago”:

She has fought tenaciously for all of this. I have watched her sit in the sorrow and experience the waves of pain over all the things she cannot change. I have held her hand as she has wept in remorse, realizing her disillusionment with Keith [Raniere] and all that she participated in.

The memorandum also favorably describes Mack’s divorce from Nicki Clyne, a NXIVM and DOS member “whom [Mack] married at Raniere’s request in order to obtain a favorable immigration status for Ms. Clyne.”

Again, from the memorandum:

The marriage represents another example of the now-incomprehensible lack of judgment Ms. Mack displayed during her time in DOS, and another action about which she is deeply remorseful. In addition to rectifying the fraud, Ms. Mack felt strongly about severing ties with Ms. Clyne because of Ms. Clyne’s continued outspoken support for Mr. Raniere, who Ms. Mack whole-heartedly rejects.

The core argument in favor of zero jail time concludes as such — again while bashing Raniere:

For more than a decade, Ms. Mack put her trust in a depraved manipulator, and let herself be indoctrinated. Ms. Mack knows that she has committed grave wrongs as part of her association with Raniere. She will be forever remorseful for her failings during that dark time. However, as set forth above, the arc of Ms. Mack’s life is now trending in a positive direction, towards truth, healing, education, and family. As a result, we respectfully submit that the Allison Mack standing before the Court at her sentencing hearing should receive a sentence that accounts for the progress she has made in charting this new path.

What follows in the document is a cross-section of the laws and cases which govern sentencing proceedings in criminal matters. Therein, Mack’s attorneys argue, in part, that a prison term is not necessary to support the aims and goals of federal sentencing law because — to quote Mack’s mother — the defendant “was hounded and publicly humiliated by the media” and the “shame she felt was crushing her soul.” That, Mack’s attorneys say, “has already inflicted grievous punishment,” and a prison term — according to them — is therefore not necessary.

They go on with this chain of thought in slightly more detail:

Even for those in the population who could be deterred, the punishment already meted out to Ms. Mack — arrest by the FBI, home confinement with severe restrictions on communication with the outside world, a felony conviction, public humiliation, stalking paparazzi, a reputation in tatters, a career in ruins, and physical and emotional scars from her twelve years serving Raniere — already provides all the deterrent necessary.

Attached to the memorandum is a letter from Mack herself addressed to “those who have been harmed by my actions.”  The beginning paragraph focuses on Mack’s description of her own “isolation” and purported transformation after confronting the “darkest parts” of herself and the “pain my actions have inflicted on so many people.”

It continues:

I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Rainire with everything I had. I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself. I devoted my loyalty, my resources, and, ultimately, my life to him. This was the biggest mistake and greatest regret of my life.

I am sorry to those of you that I brought into Nxivm. I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man. I am sorry that I encouraged you to use your resources to participate in something that was ultimately so ugly. I do not take lightly the responsibility I have in the lives of those I love and I feel a heavy weight of guilt for having misused your trust, leading you down a negative path. I am sorry to those of you whom I spoke to in a harsh or hurtful way. At the time, I believed I was helping. I believed in tough love and thought it was the path to personal empowerment. I was so confused. I never want to be someone who is considered mean, but those aspects of my humanity have been revealed in all of this; it has been devastating to reconcile.

Mack will be sentenced Wednesday, June 30.

Read the full memorandum and exhibits below:

[images via YouTube screengrab/Investigation Discovery]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.