Nancy Salzman, president of NXIVM cult, sentenced to 42 months in prison
NEW YORK — Nancy Salzman, who co-founded the cult-like self-help organization NXIVM with sexual predator Keith Raniere, was sentenced Wednesday to three years and six months in prison.
Salzman, known as “Prefect” by NXIVM members, copped to identity theft in 2019 for changing user names and passwords of people identified as enemies of NXVIM. She also edited video footage before turning it over in a federal lawsuit to protect Keith Raniere, the NXIVM leader now serving a 120-year sentence for sex trafficking.
Salzman apologized Wednesday during a tearful speech in Brooklyn Federal Court, saying she too was victimized by the cult leader.
“I am horrified and ashamed that I promoted ... him,” she said about her 20-year working relationship with Raniere, calling him a “narcissistic sociopath” who she mistook for decades as an “oddly quirky, socially awkward, gifted genius.”
Her daughter, another former NXIVM member, Lauren Salzman, hung her head in the courtroom.
Salzman, 66, is the final major NXIVM figure to be sentenced.
She will go to prison on Jan. 19, 2022, allowing her time to recover from medical procedures that were not detailed in court.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis didn’t entirely buy Salzman’s claims she was a victim of Raniere.
“You never rejected him. The door was always open but you never left,” Garaufis said. “You left trauma and destruction in your wake.”
Salzman was herself a master manipulator in psychology and hypnosis. She used her controversial “exploration of meaning” sessions with NXIVM members to discover their past traumas and vulnerabilities, which she would then exploit, victims said.
She was also a major figure in NXIVM’s litigation machine against defectors and perceived critics, signing onto lawsuits bankrolled by Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, who was also a high-level member of the cult.
“Salzman has the capacity for empathy, however she wields it against her victims,” said former NXIVM member Ivy Nevares. “She leveraged my suffering against me.”
“She crushed my incredibly destabilized psyche,” said Mark Vicente, another former member.
Another victim, Camila, was forced to work for Salzman as a maid at age 15 when she was brought to Albany from Mexico and separated from her parents.
“People idolized her,” Camila recalled. “It was her job to keep the community safe.”
“She had a responsibility to the minors in her care and she let them down. She let me down,” said Camila, who was sexually abused by Raniere as a minor and said that Salzman parroted his beliefs that girls could consent to sex as soon as they were able to conceive.
Salzman argued that Raniere manipulated her for years, convincing her he was out to change the world while accumulating power to have sex with whomever he pleased.
Raniere secretly operated a secret sex cult with NXIVM known as DOS. He required women in DOS to be branded with his initials on their pubic regions. He also kept “collateral” against the women, such as naked photos and incriminating information about their families, to deter them from speaking out and maintain their subservience.
Salzman had asked for no jail time. She wrote a letter to the judge claiming she was unaware of the existence of DOS.
“DOS was at the heart of the government’s case, and it is conceded by the government that Nancy played no role in it, and that she was not aware of its existence until it was publicly revealed to the NXIVM community,” wrote Salzman’s lawyers.
Prosecutors, still, called for her to receive between 33 and 41 months in prison.
Salzman’s own daughter, Lauren Salzman, pleaded guilty in the case and got no jail time despite recruiting women into DOS.
Former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack was sentenced in June to three years in prison for her role in the sex cult.
Bronfman, who bankrolled the operation, was sentenced in 2020 to more than six years behind bars.