Clare Bronfman, heir to the Seagram’s empire, could spend five years in federal prison. That’s if federal prosecutors get their way. Bronfman is accused of bankrolling the infamous Nxivm sex cult.
People were shocked when the Nxivm story broke. The cult somehow got women to allow themselves to be branded. Its leader is accused of multiple sex crimes. Several celebrity actresses were also involved in the cult which is now the subject of a documentary mini-series on HBO called “The Vow.”
The documentary tries to answer the question that everyone had when first hearing about how successful famous women were involved in Nxivm – How? How could such women be suckered and drawn into something so horrible? In short, it has to do with issues of low self-esteem and how the cult drew people in a little at a time.
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Not only do prosecutors want twice the two and a half to three years sentence recommended by the probation department, but they would also like to see Clair Bronfman pay a $500,000 fine.
“There can be little doubt that [Keith] Raniere would not have been able to commit the crimes with which he was convicted were it not for powerful allies like Bronfman,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum cited by the New York Daily News.
The 41 year old Bronfman already pled guilty to a number of charges last year. But Clare Bronfman refuses to disavow the cult and still maintains that Nxivm helped her to improve her personal life. This will certainly not work in her favor.
Last month Bronfman wrote a letter to the judge saying, “Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and NXIVM, and that I have not is hard for them to understand or accept. NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better. Most of my teenage years and early 20s, I was ashamed of who I was, constantly focused on my shortcomings and ridden with self-hate.
“NXIVM changed that. I learned a sense of who I am beyond my faults and the tools of how to transform things I didn’t like about myself into traits and behaviors I do. I started to embrace myself and turn outwardly to care for and help others.”
Federal prosecutors maintain that Clare Bronfman is not only remorseless, but she has also tried to intimidate Nxvim victims. They stated that she and the Nxvim leader, “drafted threatening letters which were then sent, verbatim, to DOS victims by attorneys in Mexico that Bronfman had retained. The only reason for Bronfman and Raniere [Nxvim leader] to send these letters to sex trafficking victims was to attempt to threaten and intimidate them, efforts which succeeded.”
The New York Post has cited statements from Bronfman’s victims saying things like, “Receiving these letters shook me to my core… It had been more than a year since I left DOS and NXIVM, and I felt violated once again, wondering if they would ever just let me go and allow me to move on with my life.”
“If Clare never had anything to do with DOS, and if DOS had nothing to do with NXIVM, why did she deploy such an underhanded intimidation tactic to scare me into remaining silent?”
Clare Bronfman is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30.