Nxivm founder Keith Raniere was denied bail Tuesday by a federal court judge in Brooklyn. His lawyers had filed a $10 million bond request on June 5.
The decision comes as his organization, considered a self-improvement program by its adherents and a cult by others, announced it was suspending operations. “It is with deep sadness that we inform you we are suspending all NXIVM/ESP [Executive Success Programs] enrollment, curriculum and events until further notice,” reads a statement on its website. “While we are disappointed by the interruption of our operations, we believe it is warranted by the extraordinary circumstances facing the company at this time. We continue to believe in the value and importance of our work and look forward to resuming our efforts when these allegations are resolved.”
Raniere was arrested March 26 and charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy after an FBI investigation into a complaint that a sect within Nxivm was branding women and coercing them into serving as sex slaves. Former Smallville star Allison Mack was arrested April 20 on the same charges and released four days later on a $5 million bond.
Although both defendants have denied that any actions taken were nonconsensual, Mack told The New York Times Magazine in an interview before her arrest that the branding was her idea. She is currently residing in detention at her parents’ home in Los Alamitos, California, while awaiting trial, which is set to begin Oct. 1. Both Raniere and Mack have pleaded not guilty to the charges.