Guru who branded his women
THE girlfriend of a “selfimprovement guru to the stars”, who is accused of coercing female followers into having sex and then getting their pubic region branded with his initials, has declared she feels “free” after he was refused bail by American authorities.
Keith Raniere, 57, was arrested in Mexico last month and faces charges of sex trafficking and forced labour.
Raniere’s ex-girlfriend Barbara Bouchey, who left him in 2009, said she was “stalked” by members of his group, NXIVM, pronounced Nexium.
“I’m feeling safe for the first time in years,” Ms Bouchey said.
Raniere’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo said his client was innocent.
“The facts will show that Raniere didn’t compel or pressure anyone to do anything and that everyone was acting in accordance with his or her free will,” he said.
Raniere’s disciples included wealthy heiresses, a son of a former president of Mexico and actresses, including Smallville star Allison Mack.
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.
Last year, women who were part of a NXIVM subgroup came forward to say that they had been physically branded with a surgical tool against their will.