Just days before Nxivm leader Keith Raniere’s sentencing, his lawyers have filed a motion to overturn his conviction — arguing that two members of his cult were not able to testify on his behalf due to threats and intimidation by prosecutors.
After a six-week trial, Raniere was convicted last year of racketeering and sex-trafficking charges for running a master-slave group within his self-help organization called DOS, in which women were branded with his initials like cattle and forced to have sex with him.
Former “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicole Clyne, 37, and fellow DOS member Michele Hatchette, 33, and said in affidavits provided by the defense that they wanted to take the stand on Raniere’s behalf, but feared that Brooklyn federal prosecutors would retaliate against them if they did so.
Defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo alleged that federal prosecutors told Hatchette’s lawyer that the government was planning to call her as one of its witnesses and threatened to charge her with perjury if she didn’t cooperate.
Similarly, the defense wrote in the motion filed Tuesday, that prosecutors told Clyne’s lawyer “first, we are going to cut the head of the snake off and then we’re coming for the body. This is not going away for her.”
During jury selection, prosecutors allegedly served Clyne with a grand jury subpoena to further intimidate her from taking the stand, the filing states.
Clyne’s wife and senior Nxivm member “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, who was charged alongside Raniere, pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing.
“The threat and message the Government delivered was received loud and clear: testify for the defense and be prosecuted; remain silent and you will not be prosecuted,” wrote Agnifilo.
As a result, both women chose not to testify, the filing states. This deprived Raniere of presenting evidence that DOS was created for the benefit of its participants, and not, as the government contended, to generate sex partners for its leader, it argues.
Clyne, who was with Raniere during his arrest at a luxury villa in Mexico, would have told the jury that DOS had a “worthy purpose” and that she never witnessed “any crimes such as sex trafficking,” according to the filling.
Similarly, Hatchette would have also extolled the virtues of the group, the papers allege.
She was recruited to DOS by Mack and said that their master-slave relationship helped her develop as a person, according to the affidavit.
She described the collateral that members had to hand over to join the group, which included nude photographs and humiliating secrets, as a positive way to “demonstrate my commitment.”
Raniere has been sued by 80 people who claim they were lured into the cult by promises of a more meaningful life — but instead were sex-trafficked, forced into slave labor or subjected to psychological experiments.