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Witness in NXIVM trial says she hacked emails for alleged cult leader Keith Raniere

The witness, only identified as Daniela, was confined to a room for two years, which she is expected to describe when her testimony resumes Wednesday.

Attorneys representing Keith Raniere and the group NXIVM,

Attorneys representing Keith Raniere and the group NXIVM, Mark Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian, speak to the media outside the United States Eastern District Court after a bail hearing on May 4, 2018, for actress Allison Mack in connection with the alleged sex cult case. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jemal Countess

A Mexican woman who was part of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s harem testified Tuesday at his Brooklyn federal court sex-cult trial that she hacked emails of group enemies for him and had a secret abortion when he insisted on it, but the guru freaked out and ostracized her when she kissed another man.

Daniela, whose last name is being withheld in court, said that after her family became enamored with NXIVM, she had sex with Raniere at 18, began giving him oral sex daily, “idolized” him and considered him her “best friend” – until she told him she felt stirrings for someone named Ben at a “Star Trek” party.

Raniere — 45 or 50, to her 21 at the time — erupted, telling her that she was being “prideful” and “destructive,” that Ben was “mediocre” compared  with him, and she was attacking him as a “thought object” in her mind — accusing her of “destroying me” and “hurting my heart.”

The reaction, Daniela said, surprised her, because Raniere had sex with a number of women —including both her sisters — and their “robotic sex” never included romance. But eventually he locked himself in a bathroom, telling her at one point, “You should have those feelings for me, not him.”

The incident, she said, shattered her life because she was in the United States illegally, with no ties outside NXIVM. Raniere sent “thousands” of emails about every detail of the flirtation with Ben, but never spoke to her again, while the group shunned her socially, subjecting her to unrelenting criticism and discipline.

Eventually, her family joined in the punishment and she was confined to a room for two years, which she is expected to describe when her testimony resumes Wednesday.

“My world closed in on me,” Daniela told the jury.

Raniere, 58, is charged with marketing Albany-based NXIVM as a self-help group but using it to mistreat and exploit women. He is charged with conspiracy, racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor and other crimes. The trial is in its fourth week.

Daniela testified last week that after she became involved with Raniere within a week of turning 18, she learned that both her older sister  and  her younger sister — just 16 at the time —were having sex with him, too. She said Raniere opposed birth-control pills because he thought they made women overweight.

On Tuesday, she said that all three sisters eventually became pregnant and had medical nonsurgical abortions at Raniere’s insistence, but were not permitted to reveal the name of the father.

Afterward, he said pregnancy followed by abortion had favorable effects on metabolism that was employed by some Olympians in training.

“Keith told me this was a great opportunity for me to lose weight and get fit,” she said.

Daniela also testified that, at Raniere’s direction, she used self-taught computer programming skills to hack the emails of opponents of NXIVM and others. She said that with the help of Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman, a NXIVM insider, they were able to break into and monitor the email of her father, billionaire Edgar Bronfman, who had called the group a “cult.”

Daniela’s testimony is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.


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