The US judge in charge of the Nxivm sex sect case in New York ordered Thursday that the jury be anonymous and that he be "partially kidnapped" during the trial despite the fact that there is no "real danger" to the members who make it up. .
According to court documents, magistrate Nicholas Garaufis decided this way in a pre-trial hearing that will begin on April 29 and that brought together several defendants: the founder of Nxivm, Keith Raniere; the actress Allison Mack; the heiress of the Seagram's decanter, Clare Bronfman, and the accountant Kathy Russell.
The measures dictated by the judge will avoid the disclosure of the names of the jury, still to be selected, which will be identified with numbers, and will have to be transported by the sheriffs to enter and leave the court, something that local media have compared with the recent case of the Mexican drug trafficker "El Chapo".
Raniere, considered the leader of the sect, faces several charges, including sex trafficking, conspiring to commit this crime and also forcing forced labor, electronic fraud or possession of child pornography.
Of all the accused, a total of six, Raniere has the most charges and, if found guilty, faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.
According to Vulture magazine, the judge said at the hearing that "there is no real danger to the jury" but does not want the "possibility" that a journalist or a civilian can go to the members before, during or after the process , but they will be free to address themselves to the media once it is over.
Raniere, 58, nicknamed "Vanguard", had been promoting self-help programs for two decades under an umbrella company called Nxivm, which he founded and which included operating centers in the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America.
According to the Office of the Prosecutor, Nxivm, established in the north of New York, followed a scheme of pyramid scheme in which the assistants were obliged to take additional classes at a higher price and to bring other people to "ascend" in rank and obtain privileges.
He was arrested in March 2018 in Mexico, where he fled after a report in The New York Times that collected the stories of women who had managed to leave Nxivm, which is estimated to have captured some 16,000 people, and then moved to the US.
The Prosecutor's Office alleges that Raniere formed a secret society within Nxivm called DOS, an acronym in Latin for "Master of obedient compañeras" or "El voto", where he was the only man and leader, while actress Mack was "one of women in the first level of the pyramid, immediately after "him.
DOS operated with the ranks of "masters" and "slaves", and the latter were expected to recruit new ones, which would be below and from which the rest of the superiors in the pyramid could take advantage.