Smallville actress charged with sex trafficking offence relating to NXIVM group accused of branding women

Federal prosecutors say a television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend has been charged with sex trafficking for helping recruit women to be slaves of a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru.

Federal prosecutors say Allison Mack who played Superman's close friend has been charged

Smallville actress Allison Mack has been arrested for her alleged role in the notorious New York group called NXIVM. (Twitter)

A television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend pleaded not guilty Friday to sex trafficking after federal prosecutors said she worked as a slave "master" recruiting unsuspecting women to a cult-like group led by a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars.

Allison Mack was accused in an indictment unsealed by the federal court in Brooklyn.

She entered her plea and was remanded to custody after Judge Cheryl Pollak refused a request from Mack's lawyers to release her without bail.

Mack, 35, starred in The CW network's "Smallville."

Since that series ended in 2011, she has played only minor roles. Prosecutors said she helped recruit women for leader Keith Raniere and his cult-like organization called NXIVM.

Keith Raniere is the founder and creator of NXIVM and its offshoot, Executive Success Programs, which is a marketing arm that sells self-development courses and seminars. (Cathy Pinsky/Pinsky Studios)

She told the women they were joining what was purported to be a female mentorship group, prosecutors said.

But "the victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labour," according to federal prosecutors.

"Mack and other ... masters recruited ... slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses the NXIVM curriculum taught were common in women," prosecutors said.

Starved to reach 'sexual ideal'

Prosecutors said she required women she recruited to engage in sexual activity with Raniere, who paid Mack in return.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Kim Penza said in court that that "under the guise of female empowerment" Mack "starved women until they fit her co-defendant's sexual ideal"

Federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence near Albany where NXIVM was headquartered in March.

The organization also ran programs in Mexico.

Raniere, 57, was arrested in Mexico, brought to the U.S. on March 26 and is being held without bail in Brooklyn.

The FBI has filed sex trafficking charges against him, saying that with the help of mostly female assistants, he blackmailed and coerced women into unwanted sex.

Prosecutors hinted in earlier papers that Mack was one of the co-conspirators; it's not clear who else may be charged.

Raniere's attorney has said the facts would show Raniere did not compel or pressure anyone to do anything.

He says everyone was acting in accordance with his or her free will at every instance.

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)

Raniere sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars and his core disciples who include actresses, wealthy heiresses and a son of the former president of Mexico.

Mack's "Smallville" co-star Kristin Kreuk says she was involved with one of the group's self-help programs but left about five years ago.

She wrote on Twitter last month that she didn't experience any "nefarious activity" and was "horrified and disgusted" by the allegations.

Founded in 1998, NXIVM promoted Raniere's teachings as a kind of mystical, executive coaching designed to help people get the most out of life.

Enrollees in its Executive Success Programs paid handsomely for his advice.

The organization also drew criticism from people who likened it to a cult.

Last year, the accusations took a new twist, with women who were part of a NXIVM subgroup coming forward to say that they had been physically branded with a surgical tool against their will.

Prosecutors said in court papers that Raniere created a society within NXIVM called "DOS" — an acronym based on a Latin phrase that loosely translates to "Lord/Master of obedient female companions.

"Women were required to provide damaging material about their friends and family, naked photos and even sign over their assets as a condition for joining, they said. Many were branded with his initials, they said.

The enigmatic leader of NXIVM, Keith Raniere, dubbed himself 'Vanguard' and in late summer a week-long retreat is held near Albany in his honour. (Frankreport.com)