NEW YORK (AP) — A case featuring sensational claims that followers of a New York self-help organization were forced to become sex slaves took a new turn on Wednesday with one key defendant pleading guilty and another being hit with child pornography charges.
Nancy Salzman, who once ran the group NXIVM, told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that she teamed up with self-styled spiritual leader Keith Raniere, because she wanted to help people improve their lives. But she admitted that she later lost her way when she joined efforts to spy on perceived enemies seeking to expose the Albany-based group as a cross between a pyramid scheme and a cult.
"It has taken some time and soul searching to come to this place," said Salzman, choking back tears. "I accept that some of what I did was not just wrong, but criminal. ... If I could go back and do it all over again, I would. But I can't."
About two hours after the guilty plea, prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Raniere accusing him of twice inducing a minor to "engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing one or more visual depictions of such conduct" in 2005.
In a statement on Wednesday, defense attorney Marc Agnifilo denied the new allegations and questioned the timing with his client nearing trial on other charges.
The new charges "serve only to taint the jury pool," Agnifilo said. "If the charges were legitimate, they would have brought them a year ago."