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NXIVM founder Keith Raniere ordered to pay $3.46M to 21 victims

July 20 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Tuesday ordered NXIVM founder Keith Raniere to pay $3.46 million in restitution to 21 victims of the alleged sex cult.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that 17 victims were eligible to receive restitution under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which applies to crimes including forced labor, sex trafficking and document servitude.

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Another four were entitled under restitution under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996, related to crimes such as racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.

Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October after being convicted on one count each of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking.

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During his trial and sentencing, former members of NXIVM -- an Albany, N.Y.-based self-help group he founded -- said he preyed on insecure people believing they were joining a women's empowerment group who were later pressured into having sex with him and blackmailed to remain silent.

Some women were also recruited into a secretive sect within the group called the Vow, or D.O.S., where they were branded with Raniere's initials.

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Garaufis ordered victims who were branded to receive $2,500 for costs associated with removing the brands, stating that "virtually all low-ranking members of D.O.S. were victims of conspiracy" involving forced labor.

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He also ordered that Raniere return "collateral" ranging from sexually explicit photos of themselves to letters making false and damaging statements about loved ones to the victims.

Raniere, however, said at the hearing that he has "never handled the collateral."

The largest restitution payment was $507,997, paid to a victim who was 15 years old when Raniere began sexually abusing her including inducing her to submit to pornographic photography sessions.

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