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Interest in another man angered alleged NXIVM sex guru, witness says

Keith Raniere is accused of being a con man who founded NXIVM in the Albany area as a personal-growth program to help people live an "ethical" life but used it to control and exploit women for sex.

A portrait of Keith Raniere is entered into

A portrait of Keith Raniere is entered into evidence at his trial on charges including racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking and more. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office

Alleged NXIVM sex-guru Keith Raniere persuaded the mother of a young Mexican woman he seduced for sexual services to keep her in a room for two years without disclosing his anger because the daughter had a romantic interest in another man, according to a tape played Thursday at Raniere’s trial.

The tape was played in Brooklyn federal court a day after the daughter, Daniela, whose last name is being withheld, described to jurors how her flicker of interest in another man threw Raniere into a furious campaign of reprisal that ended   with a torturous confinement by her own family.

In the recording, Daniela’s mother Adriana, herself a NXIVM adherent, said her daughter just wanted to return to live a “simple life” in Mexico, but Raniere — without specifying what Daniela had done — repeatedly compared it to killing a child, urging strict discipline and never admitting he had her give him oral sex since her 18th birthday.

“If you killed a child and then you said, 'gee, you know, I think I want to go on a vacation,' that would be awful,” Raniere calmly told the mother on the recording, a week before Daniela's confinement began. “All of these things that Dani expresses she would like are like asking for a vacation when you’ve killed a child.”

Eventually, prosecutor Moira Penza interrupted the tape to ask Daniela, “Had you killed a child?” She answered no. “What had you done?” Penza asked. “I kissed Ben Myers,” Daniela said.

Raniere, 58, is accused of being a con man who founded NXIVM in the Albany area as a personal-growth program to help people live an “ethical” life but used it to control and exploit women for sex. He is charged with conspiracy, racketeering, sex-trafficking, forced labor and other crimes.

Daniela, now 33, and her two sisters came from Mexico to join the group after their parents became adherents of Raniere’s teachings. He eventually had sex with all three daughters, she testified — including her younger sister Camila when she was underage.

In the country illegally, Daniela said she stayed in her room because she feared a complete cutoff from her family if she defied Raniere. But the isolation made her near-suicidal, she said, and she finally left in 2012 — driven to Laredo, given a hug and 1500 pesos by her father, and provided a bus ticket.

She said she cobbled together a living from a series of low-wage service jobs, managed to get a copy of her birth certificate and identification papers, and made herself a success — now working as a plant manager and supervising 250 people for a manufacturing company.

Daniela testified she gradually, awkwardly reconnected with her family, trying to help her younger sister extract herself from Raniere and renewing ties with her mother.

“A mother is a mother,” Daniela testified. “Eventually, I was just happy to have a mom. … I could understand what she had done. She’s a human being. Just like me.”

Her testimony resumes on Friday.

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