Leader of alleged cult that ensnared Vancouver woman appears in court

The leader of a secretive group in upstate New York who allegedly coerced female followers into having sex with him and getting branded with his initials has appeared in federal court in Texas.

Keith Raniere faces charges of sex trafficking and forced labour in New York State

Keith Raniere is the founder and creator of NXIVM and its offshoot, Executive Success Programs. (Cathy Pinsky/Pinsky Studios)

The leader of a secretive group in upstate New York who allegedly coerced female followers into having sex with him and getting branded with his initials has appeared in federal court in Texas.

Sporting a blue T-shirt, close-cropped grey beard, dark-rimmed glasses and chains, Keith Raniere waived his right to an identification hearing during Tuesday's court appearance in Fort Worth.

Raniere, who is accused by some former members of leading a cult, was arrested in Mexico and returned to Texas on Monday on charges of sex trafficking and forced labour.

Last fall, Vancouver actress Sarah Edmondson told CBC News that she inadvertently helped recruit other Vancouver women to the group, and eventually travelled to Albany, N.Y., where she underwent a harrowing flesh branding on her abdomen.

Sarah Edmondson shows the scar she says was left after she participated in a branding ceremony at a private residence near Clifton Park, N.Y., with a small group of other women. (Sarah Edmondson)

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton granted Raniere's request Tuesday to have his preliminary and detention hearings take place in the court prosecuting him in the Eastern District of New York.

Cureton ordered him taken into custody by U.S. Marshals for transfer to New York. Laura Vega, a spokeswoman for the agency, says Raniere will be moved sometime in the next two weeks.

With files from CBC News