We all know how Smallville actress Allison Mack became a leader in a sex-slave cult. But she and cult leader Keith Raniere were not in this venture alone.
NXIVM, the sex-slave cult that lured women into its ranks under the guise of a women's empowerment, was financed by heiress Clare Bronfman.
Bronfman has now been busted for racketeering and other charges in connection with her involvement.
Clare Bronfman is a Seagram's liquor heiress and the daughter of the late Edgar Bronfman.
The 39-year-old is a wealthy philanthropist and she is also known as a dedicated equestrian.
She is also very much under arrest after the police say that she used her inherited wealth to bankroll NXIVM. They say that she was one of the organization's leaders.
On Tuesday, she was busted for racketeering and a number of other crimes.
She plead not guilty to conspiring with Raniere to steal the email passwords of his (perceived) enemies, place charges on the credit card of his deceased ex, and launder money in order to help a non-citizen gain fraudulent entry to the U.S.
Clare and her sister, Sara, were both involved in NXIVM, but it sounds like Clare is -- for the moment -- the one facing criminal charges.
Prosecutors say that Clare and Sara financed NXIVM, helping to lend it credibility as a self-help organization. Which, in turn, helped Raniere to lure more alleged victims.
As you may recall from last November's explosive report when Allison Mack was outed as a "master" in a sex-slave cult, the allegations are that NXIVM functions like a pyramid scheme, in which women are expected to recruit new members.
Unfortunately, the allegations say that these women must surrender blackmail material in order to advance, and are then branded with Keith Raniere's initials.
According to reports, these women ultimately answered to Mack, who was entrusted with selecting which women would have sex with Raniere.
Unfortunately, this is said to have gone far beyond mixing roleplay with sex.
First of all, former members of NXIVM and its internal organization, DOS (dominance over the slave women) have come forward and revealed that they ddi not know that they were going to be branded.
Second of all, the blackmail material existed to discourage women from balking at Mack's orders.
Additionally, it was said that physical punishments, from sleep deprivation to even violence, was wielded to encourage the "slaves" to toe the line.
Sex is not consensual if you're being threatened or blackmailed into saying "yes."
On the NXIVM website, Clare Bronfman claimed: "neither NXIVM nor Keith have abused or coerced anyone."
Interestingly, she did confirm that DOS exists within NXIVM.
"W]hile I am not and never have been a member of the sorority," Clare wrote. "[It] has not coerced nor abused anyone."
"In fact, the sorority has truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely," Clare claims. "I find no fault in a group of women… freely taking a vow of loyalty and friendship with one another."
She says that these women do so "to feel safe while pushing back against the fears that have stifled their personal and professional growth."
"It’s not for any of us to judge how they, or anyone else, choose to advance their lives and values," Clare rights.
If the choice were truly up to these women, she'd by right. People can have whatever kind of consensual intercourse that they like.
But prosecutors are after Raniere, Mack, and now Bronfman for alleged criminal activities.
It is entirely possible that Bronfman did not know that blackmail and violence were being used. It is not uncommon for people in cults or organized religions to trust their religious leaders absolutely.
If Clare comes to realize the sort of operation that Raniere was running on her dime, perhaps she will turn state's evidence.
If convicted on all charges, this heiress could potentially face 20 years in prison.