Keith Raniere, the 58-year-old accused leader of a coercive sex cult known as NXIVM, allegedly struggled to get or maintain an erection, a woman testified in a Brooklyn courtroom on Thursday.
The 33-year-old woman, identified only as Daniela, told the court that Raniere had trouble maintaining an erection when they first had sex. According to the New York Post, Daniela testified that Raniere kept trying to convince her that he penetrated her, insisting that she could not feel it because she was “in her own head.” Raniere allegedly performed oral sex on Daniela back in 2003. That act is said to have occurred on Daniela’s 18th birthday.
“I didn’t think he’d penetrated me,” Daniela testified. “He was telling me he had penetrated me.” She later added, “[T]hat’s still a point of debate. I was there. It’s my body … I’m sure he did not penetrate me then.”
When she was asked about whether Raniere “had difficulty getting or maintain an erection” during ensuing sexual encounters, Daniela answered in the affirmative.
She that Raniere nicknamed her “Norelco” (after an electric shaver company) because she did not have pubic hair. She also said Raniere told her she needed to lose weight for the sake of his “sexual energy.”
“[H]e was very sensitive to that […] So when a woman was overweight, fat, it disrupted his energy,” she said.
As the New York Daily News reported, Daniela was first introduced to NXIVM in 2002 when her parents offered her a two-week trip to visit them. She said her parents called Raniere “the smartest man in the world.”
She said that Raniere developed a sexual interest in her and offered to “tutor” her if she agreed to aside her schooling. “Don’t go to school,” is what Raniere said, according to Daniela. She actually turned down an opportunity to go to boarding school in the Swiss Alps.
Daniela expalined that she had a falling out with the group when she admitted to stealing $6,000 from its administrative office. Even though she confessed and returned the money the next day, she was ostracized by the group.
“He was a shoulder to cry on,” Daniela said in court. “At the time he felt like the only person who was on my side, in fact. I think he made himself the hero of the story. He created a horrible situation so I became closer and more dependent on him.”
NXIVM was founded by Raniere as a “self-improvement group,” but prosecutors alleged that women were recruited to be his sex slaves. Victims were allegedly branded, sexually abused, and tortured. The sex cult case has already led to multiple guilty pleas: NXIVM bookkeeper Kathy Russell, Lauren and Nancy Salzman, Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman have all pleaded guilty for their roles in the racketeering conspiracy.
These pleas allowed the defendants to avoid the sex trafficking charges Raniere faces. He has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy, child sexual exploitation and possession of child pornography charges. [Image via YouTube screengrab}