Brooklyn Heights

The Eagle’s guide to Brooklyn’s Nxivm ‘sex cult’

It was all happening right under our noses, authorities said

April 24, 2018 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Keith Raniere, center, is accused of running a sex cult.

A cult allegedly recruited slaves to have sex with the shadowy founder of a supposed self-help group — and it was all happening in buildings Brooklynites pass every day. 

There’s 111 Hicks St., a Brooklyn Heights tower, where up to a dozen slaves allegedly stayed for various rituals over the past year, according to Frank Parlato, a former publicist for Nxivm who has turned whistleblower.

There’s a “recruiting” building in East Williamsburg.

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And now there’s an apartment in Sunset Park, where the group’s new operator supposedly lives so she can be close to the federal lockup that is currently housing the accused sex cult founder.

“I’m pretty shocked,” Eddie Owens, a 24-year-old lifelong resident of 111 Hicks, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It’s hard to believe that something like that could be going on in this building.”

It’s hard to believe “something like that” could be happening anywhere. According to authorities, Keith Raniere, 57, ran a secretive cult called “DOS” out of his executive training company, Nxivm, which he founded roughly 20 years ago upstate. 

Federal authorities say that “Smallville” actress Allison Mack helped recruit sex slaves for Raniere — whose initials would be branded onto the slaves’ pubic areas.

The group came to Brooklyn, according to Parlato, because recruitment dropped after he blew the whistle and Raniere was arrested in March.


“Brooklyn is where they’ll be,” Parlato said. “Brooklyn is where Raniere said.”

111 Hicks St.

Parlato said between four and 12 slaves at any given time have visited the St. George Tower on the corner of Hicks and Pineapple streets, based on information that escaped slaves told him. 

Mack was in the building when she was arrested on Friday for allegedly serving as a slave master, Parlato said.

“I had no idea,” a building resident told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I’d be interested to get to the bottom of it.” 

258 Johnson St.

Parlato also said that Mack recruited potential members at 258 Johnson St. in East Williamsburg.

Among other members, Parlato says Mack used the rented space to gather prospective members, telling them the group’s technology could cure various diseases. 

When slaves were accepted into the group after providing “collateral” that consisted of damaging personal information, they were allegedly groomed to have sex with Raniere, prosecutors allege.

Slaves were also allegedly forced into sleep-deprivation that made them lose their ability to menstruate. 

Mack herself might have been one of those slaves before she rose in the group and became a leader, the New York Post reported.

“She was definitely physically suffering. There’s no question she was sleep deprived,” said actress Samia Shoaib, whom Mack tried to recruit for Nxivm in 2013.

She almost joined the group, which Mack had told her was just a support group for women.

“I wish I could tell you alarm bells went off, but they really didn’t. She was a very sweet girl,” Shoaib told the Post.

Sunset Park

While Raniere is awaiting an unscheduled arraignment at Sunset Park’s Metropolitan Detention Center, alleged member Clare Bronfman moved near the jail to better defend the leader, Parlato said.

Bronfman, the heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, “wants to be near the prison,” Parlato said. “Anything to help Raniere.”

Bronfman is now allegedly running and financing Nxivm, Parlato said.

A Brooklyn federal judge released Mack on $5 million bail Tuesday afternoon.

Mack and Raniere are charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy. They each face up to life in prison if convicted.

Nxivm released a statement that the group is working with authorities to demonstrate Raniere’s “innocence and true character.”


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