Keith Raniere Calls NXIVM Scandal a "Horrible Tragedy" in First Prison Interview

Alleged cult leader Keith Raniere spoke to NBC Nightly News about his role in NXIVM's downfall ahead of his Oct. 27 sentencing.

Keith Raniere is speaking out about his alleged involvement in the NXIVM scandal, as he prepares for his sentencing on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

In an interview aired on NBC Nightly News, the NXIVM co-founder talked exclusively to NBC News and journalist Frank Parlato from a New York federal prison, revealing that he believes he's "innocent" of the crimes he was convicted of in June 2019. 

Raniere went on to explain that he understands he's disliked by people, but stated his reputation shouldn't prevent a fair trial. "You know, one of the things that's most important in our country is the justice system," he stated. "And although, you know, people can hate me and, do, and think I'm an odious type of a character, you know, awful actually. Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system."

He later added, "There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I'm the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined.

Members of NXIVM, including Allison Mack's wife, Nikki Clyne, previously claimed there was prosecutorial misconduct and that the media unduly influenced the trials of Raniere, Mack and Clare Bronfman.

Nonetheless, Raniere said he accepts responsibility for the part he played in the scandal, calling it "a horrible tragedy." He stated, "I apologize for my participation in all of this pain and suffering. I've clearly participated. I've been the leader of the community."

Raniere will appear in court on Tuesday, Oct. 27 for sentencing. He faces life in prison after he was found guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking. 

Last month, his associate, Clare Bronfman, was ordered to spend six years and nine months in prison for her part in the conspiracy. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain and fraudulent use of personal identification information in April 2019. 

As for Mack, she awaits her sentencing date at her parent's home in California, where she's lived since her release on bond in April 2018. 

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The highly-publicized trial of the NXIVM members will be documented in an upcoming season of HBO's The Vow, which was renewed for a second season.

During the show's finale in September, Raniere and NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman gave statements about their account of events. For his part, Raniere stated, "There are many ways of presenting a documentary. Your side is only the very top layer. And depending on what you're willing to present as the truth, it can go very deep. So, talk to me."

Nancy was more cryptic, stating, "Loyalty is good in certain contexts and very bad in other contexts… Talk about getting lost in a movie, we're kind of lost in the role of our life. What you have to do is stop believing that's who you are. Then you can change your role." 

(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

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