NXIVM leader Keith Raniere

Here's What You Need To Know About Keith Raniere While Watching 'The Vow'


The New York Times revealed the cult-like organization NXIVM to have alleged dealings in sex trafficking in 2017, and in 2018, the group's leader Keith Raniere was arrested on charges of alleged child sex trafficking and conspiracy. People who heard of the arrests in 2018 and fans of the new HBO docuseries The Vow — which chronicles the rise and fall of NXIVM and Raniere — may wonder where NXIVM leader Keith Raniere is now. Well, despite the fact he was arrested over two years ago, he's not exactly where you might expect, because as of August 2020, he hasn't been sentenced.

The nine-part HBO docuseries debuted Episode 1 on Aug. 23 and is expected to reveal the origin and inner workings of the NXIVM group and its leaders. Raniere — known as "Vanguard" within the organization — served as the group's guru since he founded it in 1998. People were recruited to the group under the expectation that NXIVM would provide personal and professional development courses to help them realize their full life potential. But in 2003, Forbes published an article which first exposed dark aspects of the group, reporting Raniere's program was cult-like and was allegedly aimed at "breaking down his subjects psychologically, separating them from their families and inducting them into a bizarre world of messianic pretensions, idiosyncratic language and ritualistic practices."

Furthermore, in 2017, The New York Times revealed the first-hand account of actress Sarah Edmondson's experience of an exclusive secret society within the NXIVM organization called Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS). Per the article, Edmonson was alleged branded with Raniere's initials as part of the organization's rituals. Other women, according to the report, said they were punished with starvation and allegedly coerced into sending revealing photos of themselves as "collateral" for being part of the group.

Following the Times' report, a complaint was issued in February 2018, requesting an arrest warrant for Raniere. The leader was officially arrested in March in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where several members were allegedly about to take part in a "recommitment ceremony" (which, reportedly, meant group sex with Raniere). He was extradited back to the United States and pled not guilty to seven counts including racketeering, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, and human trafficking.

In June 2019, a Brooklyn jury convicted Raniere for charges of racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. Since then, he's been sitting in a Brooklyn jail cell waiting for his sentencing trial, which will determine how much time he'll spend locked up. He could face anywhere from 15 years to life in prison; his sentencing trail is scheduled for Oct. 27, 2020.

There's also a civil lawsuit at play, which was filed by more than 80 plaintiffs who had at one time allegedly been part of NXIVM. The suit alleges the organization was also a pyramid scheme.

If you want to learn more about the creepy inner workings of NXIVM leading up to the sentencing of Raniere, you can check out The Vow on HBO on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.