She wept as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Raniere and NXIVM.
Prior to her appearance in court, Mack was out on a $5-million bond and was under house arrest.
Mack, 36, is widely known as one of 58-year-old Raniere’s top confidantes. Authorities have long alleged that Raniere led the secretive clan of female followers and brainwashed them into being “sex slaves.” Many women were “branded” with his and Mack’s initials in their pelvic regions, and authorities allege they were coerced into having sex with him.
According to the filed complaint, Raniere (who was known in the group as “The Vanguard”) oversaw the functioning of NXIVM, which operated under an archaic system: women were told the best way to advance was to become a “slave” watched over by “masters.”
They were expected to have sex with their “master” and do any and all menial chores they were ordered to do. They weren’t to tell anybody about the arrangement and risked public humiliation if they ever revealed details to any party.
WATCH (April 26, 2018): Allison Mack appears in resurfaced video promoting alleged sex cult
With jury selection beginning for the federal case, Mack spoke out in court Monday as she pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
“I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people and I was wrong,” Mack told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.
After months of reflection since her arrest, “I know I can and will be a better person,” Mack said. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 11.
The plea means Mack will avoid going to trial with Raniere, wealthy Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman and another member of Raniere’s inner circle, Kathy Russell. All have pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.
Potential jurors were expected to begin filling out questionnaires Monday. Opening statements are scheduled for April 29.
The question of who jurors would see seated at the defence table that day had remained open in the wake of new allegations that Raniere exploited a teenage girl. His co-defendants have since sought separate trials and engaged in plea negotiations.
Court papers allege NXIVM formed a secret society of women, while defence attorneys have insisted any relationship between Raniere and the alleged victims, including an unidentified actor and other women expected to testify against him at trial, was consensual.
On Monday, Mack said that at Raniere’s direction, she obtained compromising information and images of two unidentified women — called “collateral” within the group — that she threatened to make public if they didn’t perform “so-called acts of love.”
In a June 2018 interview, Mack acknowledged reaching out to Hollywood actors like Emma Watson in order to grow NXIVM.
Raniere and NXIVM have been the subject of criticism for years, dating back to at least 2012 when the Times Union of Albany published a series of articles examining the organization and allegations that it was like a cult.
Other rumoured celebrity members include former Battlestar Galactica star Nicki Clyne and Canadian actor Kristen Kreuk. Clyne has not commented publicly on her involvement, while Kreuk acknowledged hers, saying she’s “disturbed and embarrassed to have been associated” with NXIVM.
Bronfman, the daughter of late billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr., has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing her of bank-rolling NXIVM.
Nancy Salzman, co-founder of NXIVM, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy on March 13. Salzman now faces 33 to 41 months in prison at her July 10 sentencing. Her home was raided in March 2018 by the FBI.
—With files from the Associated PressFollow @CJancelewicz
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