NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere appeals his sex trafficking conviction claiming his lawyers didn’t get enough time to question witnesses while Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman says she was given ‘harsh’ six year sentence because she is rich
- Attorneys for Raniere and Bronfman appeared in court in New York on Tuesday
- Raniere’s lawyer argued that they were not allowed to question witness Lauren Salzman as thoroughly as they’d have liked
- He said it breached his rights to a fair trial and that he should get a new one
- The judges have not yet made a decision on his appeal
- Bronfman’s attorneys said her six-year sentence was too harsh compared with others in the case
- They argued that she was made an example of because she is the heiress to the Seagram’s beverage company fortune
NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere on Tuesday tried to appeal his conviction, claiming through his lawyers that he didn’t get a fair shake in court because they weren’t given enough time to cross-examine witnesses.
Heiress Clare Bronfman – who was also convicted for her role in the sex cult – also appealed her six year sentencing, claiming she was made an example of because she is so rich.
Raniere was convicted of sex trafficking in January 2019 and was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October 2020.
NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere (left) is currently serving a 120-year sentence but he on Tuesday asked for his conviction to be overturned. The judges adjourned without making a decision. Seagrams’ heiress Clare Bronfman (right) also appealed for a lighter sentence. She was sentenced to six years for her role in the cult
He did not appear in court on Tuesday as his attorney claimed that he did not get long enough to question witnesses, specifically Lauren Salzman, who struck a deal with prosecutors and escaped jail herself.
‘The defense did not get to ask all the questions the defense wanted.
‘The intent was crucial to this case,’ Raniere’s attorney argued.
The judges reserved a decision pending review. It’s unclear when they will return to court.
In the same hearing, attorneys for Bronfman argued that she was given too harsh a sentence because of her wealth and privilege.
Raniere’s attorneys claimed they didn’t get enough time to question witness Lauren Salzman, who made a deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony
Victims of the cult told prosecutors how Raniere and other leaders brandished them with a burning piece of metal
‘Clearly, she was punished for her wealth, her privilege,’ her attorney said.
Bronfman and Raniere were among those convicted of orchestrating and facilitating the cult, which drew in Hollywood actresses among victims under the guise of giving them a self-help course.
Victims told prosecutors how they were starved, sleep-deprived and even brandished with a scalding metal symbol as part of the cult.
Raniere has always denied wrongdoing.
At trial, prosecutors told how he had impregnated three sisters, all of whom he then forced to get abortions.
At his appeal hearing on Tuesday, his attorneys said the abortions were irrelevant to the case and designed to prejudice a jury.
Bronfman was convicted of conspiracy to conceal and harbor people who were not in the US legally for financial gain.
She was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison – a harsher sentence than some others who were found guilty.
Her attorney said in court that she was made an example of because of her wealth.
Bronfman is an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor and beverages empire.