NXIVM’s Keith Raniere sentenced: How he broke up one family
Fifteen of Keith Raniere’s victims spoke at Raniere’s sentencing trial on October 27th. However, it was one story, in particular, that seemed to have affected U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis the most. An anonymous woman, only known to the public as Camila, laid out her story from her first meeting with Raniere to Raniere’s manipulation & sexual abuse to her final escape from NXIVM.
Camila wasn’t the only family member to be lured into NXIVM. Her entire family fell for Raniere’s teachings. Two of her family members still support Raniere, but Camila’s mother, brother, and oldest sister attended & spoke in the court, having separated themselves from NXIVM.
Here’s the story of Camila & her family, as outlined by their victim impact statements at their sentencing hearing.
In the 2000s, Camila & her family were introduced to NXIVM. Still living in Mexico, they went to the NXIVM branch in Mexico, which was led by the son of a former Mexican president, according to The New York Times. The family eventually moved to Albany, New York to be closer to the NXIVM headquarters and to be closer to the founders & leaders of NXIVM.
Camila said she personally met Raniere when she was thirteen. In her impact statement, she stated she recounted her first encounter with Raniere and revealed she felt uncomfortable with Raniere. However, when she tried to avoid getting too close to Raniere, other adults told her she was being too rude.
Two years later, when Camila was fifteen & Raniere was forty-five-years-old, Raniere started to sexually abuse Camila. This lasted for twelve years. In this time, he forced Camila to restrict her diet, take naked photos, brand her with his initials, and was eventually recruited into DOS, a women-only group where members were forced to provide compromising collateral and some were assigned to have sex with Raniere.
Raniere’s further abuse
Camila’s statement relayed the ways she felt physically & emotionally traumatized by Raniere’s actions. According to The New York Times, Raniere sent intimidating messages and gave rules when he met with her. For example, on one occasion, he said “there will be no talking” if she wanted to meet with him. Another was when he told her, “You will meet me at the door in the outfit you think I would find sexiest”.
One of the most traumatic events for Camila, according to The New York Times was when he forced her to get an abortion. Courthouse News reported Camila is also still recovering from the restrictive diets he forced on her. On top of that, Raniere frequently slept with her sisters, sometimes even at the same time, according to The New York Times.
Camila told the court she attempted suicide. Meanwhile, Raniere, afraid for his own reputation, told her “Do you know how bad it could have been for me if you had killed yourself?”, according to The New York Times.
How Camila left
Before she finally decided to leave, Camila refused to speak to prosecutors. She refused based on advice from lawyers recommended by Raniere who were also paid for by Clare Bronfman, according to The New York Times. Bronfman is an heiress who used her Seagrams fortune to be the prime financier of NXIVM. She was sentenced to eighty-one months in prison in September.
However, she was finally convinced by her sister Daniela. Daniela had finally escaped the clutches of Raniere and promptly cooperated with the authorities. In 2017, when she was twenty-seven-years-old, Camila finally left NXIVM. Still, for years, it was hard to reconcile herself with her family. In her statement, she described how her family is still reforming their relationships and she blamed Raniere for tearing them apart.
Like Camila, Daniela gave an impact statement, outlining instances of Raniere’s abuse. Daniela stated she started having a sexual relationship with Raniere when she was eighteen. She became pregnant not long after but Raniere arranged an abortion for Daniela, telling her it would be a “good opportunity” to lose weight, according to The New York Times.
When Daniela started to fall for someone else, Raniere forced her into confinement for two years, sleeping on a foam pad on the floor, going months without human contact. Raniere said it was an “ethical breach” for her to be in love, according to Courthouse News. Raniere threatened she would be cut off from her family if she were to leave and, at one point, even took away Daniela’s birth certificate, according to Courthouse News.
Remaining support for Raniere
Camila’s father, Hector, & her oldest sister, Marianna, are still supporters of Raniere. Hector decided not to attend the sentencing hearing, according to The New York Times, but did write a letter to the court in support of Raniere. He described Raniere as being “honest, whole, brilliant intelligence, always ready to help, cheerful and in love with humanity” and said we would “always honor, be respectful and be grateful” to Raniere”.
At the same time, Hector called his daughter Daniela a liar & a thief, according to The New York Times. The New York Times also reported Judge Garaufis, the judge presiding over the case, called the letter a “disgrace”.
Marianna, on the other hand, wasn’t at the hearing but stayed in contact with Raniere even after his trial, according to The New York Times. Marianna had a son with Raniere and was even in Mexico with Raniere when he was ultimately arrested. The New York Times reported Marianna received $500,000 in 2017 thanks to Raniere’s inner circle, who also set up a trust fund for their son.
Family members who spoke in court
Other than Camila & Daniela, their mother, Adriana, & their brother, Adrian, gave their own impact statements in court. Adriana spoke about Raniere’s abuse of her daughters, saying he “raped & denigrated” them, according to The New York Times. However, she still hopes her daughter & husband will stop believing in Raniere’s practices one day in the future.
Adrian, meanwhile, spoke about his remorse for being complicit in Raniere’s crimes. He said he willingly participated in Daniela’s confinement and said he was so loyal to Raniere he shunned his mother for three years following her escape, according to The New York Times. He also described how deep he was involved with the group, saying it took a long time to deprogram Raniere’s teachings from his lifestyle.
Raniere’s final sentence
According to The New York Times, Judge Garaufis was “visibly moved” by Camila’s impact statement and cited the statement frequently in his speech before sentencing Raniere. The hearing took five hours, according to Courthouse News, with Judge Garaufis calling Raniere’s abuse of Camila “cruel to the point of inhumane”, according to Courthouse News. In addition, Judge Garaufis said, “The harm he inflicted upon her is incalculable”.
In June 2019, Raniere was found guilty for multiple charges, including sex trafficking & exploitation of a child. The nude photos he took of Camila gave him a child pornography charge. In October 2020, Raniere was given a life sentence, totaling 120 years in prison. He’s also been given a $1.75 million fine, is forbidden to contact anyone from NXIVM or DOS, and is banned from viewing pornography, according to Courthouse News.