Seagram’s heir Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to just shy of 7 years in a Federal prison. She will spend the next 81 months (6 years and nine months) behind bars with no parole. And Bronfman was also fined $500,000 and ordered to make restitution of $96,605 to a victim known only as “Jane Doe 12.”
Why such an awkward sentence?
Since the American government ended parole for Federal prisoners back in the 1990s, Federal judges have needed to issue very specific sentences by the month rather than giving a range of time like from 3 to 6 years. No more parole means no more maximum or minimum jail times.
Bronfman had pled guilty back in April 2019 to charges of aiding illegal workers and violating U.S. immigration laws. She began her involvement with Nxvim back in 2003. Federal prosecutors had not sought such a long sentence. They did, however, tell the judge that Clare Bronfman compounded her crimes by attempting to intimidate potential witnesses against her. Nd Bronfman certainly did not help her case by refusing to disavow the Nxvim cult.
In his sentencing Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn said, “I am troubled by evidence suggesting that Ms. Bronfman repeatedly and consistently leveraged her wealth and social status as a means of intimidating, controlling, and punishing” Nxivm’s enemies, the New York Times reported.
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.
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.”