Closing arguments at trial of self-improvement group founder

June 17, 2019
FILE - In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019 file courtroom drawing, defendant Keith Raniere, center, leader of the secretive group NXIVM, is seated between his attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during the first day of his sex trafficking trial. After weeks of relentlessly lurid testimony, federal prosecutors have wrapped up their case against Raniere, a former self-improvement guru accused of sex trafficking. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers told the judge Friday, June 14 they were finished calling witnesses. Closing arguments and jury deliberations will happen next week. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal prosecutor says the former spiritual leader of a cult-like self-improvement group was a “con man” and a “crime boss.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza delivered closing arguments on Monday at the trial of Keith Raniere (rah-NEER’-ee).

Penza recounted testimony that Raniere had some of his brainwashed female followers branded with his initials, forced one to have sex with another woman and confined a third to a room for nearly two years for defying his orders.

The prosecutor said he used his NXIVM (NEHK’-see-uhn) organization to “tap into a never-ending flow of women and money.”

She said Raniere “was a ruler with no limits and no checks on his power.”

Attorneys for Raniere say he had no criminal intent and that his sexual encounters with followers were consensual.

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