Allison Mack, a TV actress well known for her role in the Superman spin-off series Smallville, has been sentenced to three years in prison for recruiting women for a spiritual cult, NXIVM.
Mack appeared on Wednesday in Brooklyn’s federal court, where she faced charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labour conspiracy, for which she pleaded guilty to in April 2019, following her arrest in 2018.
She sought credit for cooperating with the case against NXIVM’s leader Keith Raniere.
He was sentenced to 120 years in jail last year for sex-trafficking and for demeaning and abusing women who became “slaves” for him.
Ms Mack wrote in an apology to victims of NXIVM that it “was the biggest mistake and greatest regret of my life”.
“I am sorry to those of you that I brought into NXIVM,” wrote the former actress. “I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man.”
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of Allison Mack’s sentencing, which is set to take place on Wednesday in Brooklyn’s federal court.
Mack facing up to 17.5 years in jail for NXIVM
Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Allison Mack could face between 14 and 17.5 years behind bars for her role in the sex cult, NXIVM.
Her defence team has argued in court papers that probation or a sentence to home confinement is more appropriate, and prosecutors have agreed that any prison term should be below the guidelines range because of her cooperation with the case against NXIVM’s leader, Keith Raniere.
Ms Mack, aged 38, became a “master” for “slaves” she ordered “to perform labor, take nude photographs, and in some cases, to engage in sex acts with Raniere”, court papers allege.
She has pleaded guilty to charges of sex trafficking following her arrest in 2018, and in recent days issued an apology for her role in the sex cult.
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How the ‘Smallville’ star helped the case against Raniere
Allison Mack provided information to prosecutors about how Keith Raniere, the leader of NXIVM, encouraged “the use of demeaning and derogatory language, including racial slurs, to humiliate ‘slaves,’” according to court papers.
The 38-year-old also provided a recording of a conversation she had with Raniere about the branding for NXIVM, which he said should involve “a vulnerable position type of a thing”.
“Almost like being tied down, like sacrificial, whatever,”said Rainere to Ms Mack, who at that time was in the cult leader’s inner circle. He was sentenced to 120 years in prison last year for sex trafficking.
Mack apologises ahead of sentencing
Allison Mack issued an apology to victims of the NXIVM sex cult on Saturday — days before her sentencing in Brooklyn’s federal court for sex trafficking.
Ms Mack, who has pleaded guilty to the charges, said she has “experienced overwhelming shame” for her role in the sex cult, and that she had worked on herself since her arrest in 2018.
“I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Raniere with everything I had…I believed, wholeheartedly, 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 regret of my life…”
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As The Independent’s Clémence Michallon writes: Of her involvement with NXIVM, she told the court at a 2019 plea hearing: “I joined NXIVM first to find purpose. I was lost and I wanted to find a place, a community in which I would feel comfortable.” More recently, in a pre-sentencing statement published by Variety, she apologised to “those who have been harmed by my actions”.
Once known as Chloe Sullivan on ‘Smallville’, Allison Mack faces sentencing on charges tied to her involvement in NXIVM. Clémence Michallon traces Mack’s itinerary from Hollywood to a cult that once presented itself as a personal development group
Lawyers for Mack ask for reduced sentence
Allison Mack has asked Brooklyn’s federal court for a reduced sentence on Wednesday, which could see her face no jail time for her role as a “master” of a sex cult.
Lawyers for the 38-year-old told the judge that she was “earnestly dedicated to her rehabilitation” after renouncing former NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere, who she recruited “slaves” for.
Ms Mack, who has been under house arrest for more than three years at her family home in Orange County, California, was said to have worked on herself since her arrest.
She has earned a degree from an unnamed college, and taken-on a job at a catering business, as Variety reported.
“Therefore [Ms Mack] respectfully asks the Court to permit her to continue down this path of growth and reform by imposing a sentence without incarceration, and which would permit her to continue her academic studies,” the letter from her lawyers, asks.
How Mack ‘flipped’ on NXIVM’s cult leader
As part of the argument from Allison Mack’s lawyers and federal prosecutors for a reduced sentenced, her cooperation with the case against NXIVM’s leader was cited as a crucial factor.
In a memo first reported byVariety, federal prosecutors acknowledged that Ms Mack had helped the prosecution by providing audio tapes of Keith Raniere that proved he knew the so-called “slaves” were branded with his initials.
Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn M Kasulis and Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar wrote to Brooklyn’s federal court last week outlining the actresses’ cooperation while also recognising "the seriousness of the offence conduct in this case, which caused extraordinary harm and pain to the victims".
The source of secret recordings about branding sex slaves was previously unknown
Character references testify to Mack’s rehabilitation
In addition to a letter from Allison Mack apologising for taking part in NXIVM, the judge who on Wednesday will decide the former actresses’ sentence received a handful of letters from family and friends testifying to the 38-year-old’s reformed character.
According to Variety, it included letters from her mother, Mindy Mack, as well as letters from her siblings, friends, and teachers at unnamed community colleges that she has attended via Zoom while studying under house arrest at her family home in Orange County, California.
Ms Mack’s mother in the letter that her daughter had earned an associate’s degree in spring 2020 with a 4.0 grade point average, and has since attended classes at UC Berkeley.
She was also said to have worked for a catering company for five to ten hours a week.
“Coming from a background in show business, Allison had always been the one being served. In her catering position she was now the one serving, giving her an entirely new perspective,” her mother said of the catering role.
The letters from friends and family came along with a request from Ms Mack’s lawyers asking for her to continue with her rehabilitation after renouncing Raniere and NXIVM.
The tape recording that helped convict Raniere
In the recording of Allison Mack and Keith Raniere discussing how to brand members of NXIVM, the jailed sex trafficker said the women recruited as “slaves” should be filmed from different angles for "collateral", used to prevent the group’s members from leaving or discussing its secrets with outsiders.
Raniere allegedly asks Ms Mack: "Do you think the person who’s being branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a, sort of almost like a sacrifice?”
He also told Ms Mack the “slave” should ask to be branded and call it an honour they want to wear for the rest of their life, while being filmed.
"And they should probably say that before they’re held down, so it doesn’t seem like they are being coerced," Raniere allegedly said of the women, who were branded with his initials as part of a secret ceremony.
The audio played an important role in convicting Raniere, who was sentenced to 120 years in jail last year.
Mack trued to recruit Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson to NXIVM
The 38-year-old recruited “slaves” for Keith Raniere, who she believed at the time was a spiritual leader and mentor, and went as far as trying to recruit high profile figures including Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson.
Allison Mack, as a so-called “master”of NXIVM, recruited victims by approaching young women and falsely describing the sex cult as a secret women’s empowerment group.
That included reaching out to Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson on Twitter in 2016, but neither of the two women responded to what Ms Mack called “a unique human development & women’s movement”, which was actually the sex cult, NXIVM.