Smallville actress could take stand against accused sex cult leader in US

Actress Allison Mack leaving the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse after facing charges regarding sex trafficking and racketeering related to the NXIVM cult case in New York.
Actress Allison Mack leaving the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse after facing charges regarding sex trafficking and racketeering related to the NXIVM cult case in New York.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Smallville actress Allison Mack may testify against the alleged leader of an Albany, New York-based sex cult whose followers had "dozens" of abortions at his behest.

The abortion revelations were heard during jury selection in court on Monday in the trial of NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, whose supposed self-help group fronted a demented sex sect in which victims were branded, tortured and sexually abused, federal prosecutors say.

Monday was the first day of jury selection at what is expected to be the cult leader's salacious trial.

Raniere, 58, is headed to trial by himself in early May after his co-defendants, including Mack, 35, and Seagram's liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, 40, pleaded guilty to crimes linked to the group's dark doings.

The fact that Mack may testify came out during a discussion about a prospective juror who said he had read media reports about the case and specifically recalled "some writings" about the actress.

Raniere's lawyer Marc Agnifilo then said the prospective juror should not be selected, given his knowledge of the other defendants, including Mack.

Mr Agnifilo also hinted at the possibility of Mack testifying later during a discussion outside the juror's presence and in response to the man's comment about Mack, saying: "I think that person might testify", referring to Mack.

 
 

Raniere's use of abortion as a birth control tactic is expected to be an ongoing theme at the trial in Brooklyn Federal Court.

"There are a lot of abortions in this case. Dozens," Mr Agnifilo said at a sidebar during questioning of the would-be panelist. "As part and parcel of his desire to have sex with lots of women, he used abortions cavalierly," he added.

Several candidates said they were staunchly opposed to abortion, in response to a question posed in a screening questionnaire.

US District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis previously ordered that the jury remain anonymous.

Raniere, whose trial is expected to last six weeks, is charged with a host of federal statute violations, including child pornography and having sex with a 15-year-old victim in his charge.

DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline 'Smallville actress could take stand against accused sex cult leader in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe