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By Hannah Thomas-Peter, US correspondent

A man who ran a secret sex cult with help from Smallville star Allison Mack has been found guilty of sex trafficking, possession of child pornography, extortion and racketeering.

In 1998, 58-year-old Keith Raniere founded a self-help company called NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um) in Albany, upstate New York.

But during his trial, prosecutors said NXIVM was in fact cover for a sex cult that manipulated and brainwashed dozens of victims.

Five women have pleaded guilty to their role in assisting Raniere.

Image: A court sketch of Raniere facing trial in Brooklyn

They include Mack and Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman.

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Prosecutors said that Mack was a senior member of what amounted to a hidden cult within NXIVM called D.O.S.

The court heard how Mack worshipped the controlling and charismatic Raniere, referring to him in text messages as the "smartest man in the world".

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The jury even heard a tape recording in which Mack and Raniere discussed how to brand new female members.

In it Raniere says: "Do you think the person who's being branded should be completely nude and sort of held to the table like a, sort of almost like a sacrifice?

"Also of course videoing it… videoing it from different angles or whatever gives collateral.

"And the person should ask to be branded.

"…should say 'please brand me it would be an honour' or something like that. 'An honour I want to wear for the rest of my life'."

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12:  Actress Allison Mack exits the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York following a status conference, June 12, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Mack was charged in April with sex trafficking for her involvement with a self-help organization for women that forced members into sexual acts with their leader. The group, called Nxivm, was led by founder Keith Raniere, who was arrested in March on sex-trafficking charges. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Image: Actress Allison Mack was part of the group

Mack then describes how she was branded in an earlier ceremony, and how a fellow member of the group asked her to think about how the pain and sacrifice represented love for her "master".

The actress sobbed as she gave evidence against Rainere.

She told the court: "I was lost and I wanted to find a place, a community in which I would feel comfortable."

Mack apologised, saying that she was "truly very sorry".

NXIVM victims told the court how painful it was to be branded.

Other described being ordered to have sex with Raniere in his bedroom, how they had to call him "vanguard", and how they were put on starvation diRead More – Source

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