Entertainment

Actor Allison Mack sentenced to 3 years in prison for role in NXIVM cult

TV actor Allison Mack, who played a key role in the scandal-ridden cult NXIVM, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday on charges she manipulated women into becoming sex slaves for the group's spiritual leader.

Mack, 38, was a member of cult leader Keith Raniere's inner circle

Allison Mack leaves federal court in New York on Jan. 28, 2019. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

Actor Allison Mack, who played a key role in the scandal-ridden cult NXIVM, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday on charges she manipulated women into becoming sex slaves for the group's spiritual leader.

Mack had previously pleaded guilty to the charges and was expected to seek credit for co-operating against NXIVM leader Keith Raniere and taking responsibility for helping him create a secret society of brainwashed women who were branded with his initials.

At its height, NXIVM had thousands of members in New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Mack was a prominent member of the group during the time the TV series Smallville was filmed in and around Vancouver. Mack played the role of Superman's close friend in the show.

At her sentencing in Brooklyn federal court, Mack renounced Raniere.

"I made choices I will forever regret," she said, also telling the judge she was filled with "remorse and guilt."

NXIVM victim rejects Mack's apology

Devoting herself to the self-improvement guru "was the biggest mistake and greatest regret of my life," Mack wrote in a letter filed with the court last week. 

"I am sorry to those of you that I brought into NXIVM," she wrote. "I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man."

She reiterated her apologies to the victims in court on Wednesday: "From the deepest part of my heart and soul, I am sorry."

Mack wept at times while reading her statement to the court. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told her he believed her apology was sincere, but said she deserved a serious sentence for using her celebrity to groom victims as "a willing and proactive ally" and "essential accomplice to Raniere's monstrous crimes."

Jessica Joan, a victim of the cult, rejected Mack's apologies, telling the judge Wednesday that the actor deserved no mercy.

"She can blame Keith all she wants, but she is a monster cut from the same cloth," Joan said. "Allison Mack is a predator and an evil human being."

WATCH | Raniere sentenced to life in prison:  

NXIVM founder Keith Raniere sentenced to life in prison

1 year ago
2:00
Disgraced NXIVM founder Keith Raniere was sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking and other crimes. Several of his accusers and former followers told court he turned them into sex slaves who were branded with his initials. 2:00

Lawyers had asked for probation

Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Mack would face between 14 and 17 1/2 years behind bars, but her legal team argued in court papers that probation or a sentence of home confinement would be more appropriate.

Prosecutors had agreed that any prison term should be below the range in the guidelines because of Mack's co-operation.

"The NXIVM saga and the story of Ms. Mack's descent have been a tragedy for all involved. But that need not, and should not, be the end of the story for Allison Mack," her lawyers wrote in court papers.

Mack, 38, was once part of the inner circle of Raniere, whose group counted millionaires and actors among its adherents.

Prosecutors said she became a "master" for "slaves" she ordered "to perform labour, take nude photographs, and in some cases, to engage in sex acts with Raniere."

As authorities closed in on Raniere, he fled to Mexico with Mack and others to try to reconstitute the group there. He was arrested and sent to the United States in March 2018; Mack was arrested a few days later.

"Ms. Mack now understands that this was the best thing that could have happened to her at that time," the defence papers said.

WATCH | The rise and fall of NXIVM:

What is NXIVM?

3 years ago
3:53
Understanding NXIVM, the alleged sex cult led by Keith Raniere and whose members included Smallville actress Allison Mack. Josh Bloch discusses the group's rise and fall. 3:53

Recording discussed branding of women

Mack provided information to prosecutors about how Raniere encouraged "the use of demeaning and derogatory language, including racial slurs, to humiliate 'slaves,' " the court papers said.

More importantly, they said, she provided a recording of a conversation she had with Raniere about the branding.

The branding should involve "a vulnerable position type of a thing" with "hands probably above the head being held, almost like being tied down, like sacrificial, whatever," Raniere told her.

The women, he said, "should say, 'Please brand me. It would be an honour.' Or something like that."

Raniere was sentenced last year to 120 years in prison for his conviction on sex-trafficking charges. A 41-year-old heir to the Seagram's fortune, Clare Bronfman, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in September for her role as Raniere's unwavering benefactor.

Mack was allowed to remain out on bail in home confinement until surrendering to prison on Sept. 29. She left the courthouse on Wednesday without speaking to reporters.

With files from CBC News

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