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Sarah Edmondson’s painful initiation into the DOS sex cult, a sect within the larger Nxivm organization, occurred at the Albany home owned by Allison Mack, says the Canadian actress.
Edmondson arrived at the house thinking she was getting a tattoo to mark her entry into what she was told was a secret sisterhood, but was instead held down on a table and branded with a cauterizing pen. The ensuing scar bears the initials of Nxivm founder Keith Raniere as well as Mack, the former Smallville star now facing federal felony charges as the alleged No. 2 in DOS.
Edmondson fled Nxivm shortly after her March 2017 branding and is one of the few members to speak on the record about her experience, first in The New York Times‘ Oct. 17 exposé and now in A&E Investigates’ upcoming docuseries Cults and Extreme Belief. “Once I left, I heard about Keith using sex as a means to control people,” she tells host Elizabeth Vargas in the above exclusive clip from the Nxivm-focused series premiere, which will air May 28 and 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
“When I left, I thought the branding was the most horrific abuse that was happening in Nxivm,” Edmondson adds. “I actually think that the branding doesn’t even compare to the other emotional abuses that have been going on for decades.”
Director and fellow ex-Nxivm member Mark Vicente also is interviewed in the episode, which features snapshots of Mack and Edmondson looking extremely friendly with one another, as well as many photographs of Raniere posing with multiple groups of women over the years.
“My knowledge about him sleeping with all the girls was that it was a few. I didn’t understand that it was dozens, 20, 30 …” Vicente says. “I don’t have a problem with somebody saying they want to have a swinger lifestyle. But don’t convince a girl that having sex with you is something she needs to do for her own growth.”
“I’ve heard of women, many women, signing lifelong vows to only have sex with Keith,” says Edmondson, who criticizes Raniere’s practice of sleeping with his Nxivm lieutenants and students as “a conflict of interest.”
“They’re there to learn. You have the person teaching them having sex with them as part of their growth?” she says. “If that’s what he wants to do, that should be on their fucking website.”
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