Sex cult leader sentenced to 120 years in prison

Keith Raniere, the founder of the cult-like group NXIVM where women were kept on starvation diets, branded with his initials, and ordered to have sex with him, was sentenced on Tuesday to 120 years in prison following his conviction for sex trafficking and other crimes.

The sentence was imposed by a U.S. District Judge in Brooklyn after a hearing where 15 former NXIVM members, most of them women, described what they called the devastating impact Raniere had on their lives.

Federal prosecutors had sought a life sentence for the 60-year-old Raniere for exploiting victims at NXIVM, a purported self-help group based near Albany, New York.

Lawyers for Raniere countered that he maintained his "complete innocence" and was the victim of an "unfair trial." They requested a sentence of no more than 15 years in prison.

The first of Raniere's accusers to speak was a woman, identified in court only as Camila, who recounted a 12-year sexual relationship with Raniere starting when she was 15 and he was 45.

Another former member, actress India Oxenberg, daughter of 80s TV star Catherine Oxenberg, told Raniere at the hearing: "You stole seven years of my life that I'll never get back."

Prosecutors said Raniere created a secret sorority within NXIVM called DOS, where female "slaves" turned over nude photos and other compromising materials that could be used for blackmail if they tried to leave.

Several other people affiliated with NXIVM have pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

They include Seagram liquor heiress Clare Bronfman – who was sentenced last month to more than six years in prison - actress Allison Mack, former NXIVM President Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman, who became a star prosecution witness.

Raniere was also fined $1.75 million.