Self-help guru convicted in lurid sex-trafficking case

In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Keith Raniere, center, sits with attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during closing arguments at Brooklyn federal court, Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in New York. A federal prosecutor said Raniere used his NXIVM organization to "tap into a never-ending flow of women and money." Attorneys for the defendant say he had no criminal intent and that his sexual encounters with followers were consensual. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

NEW YORK — The former leader of an upstate New York self-help group has been convicted in a federal case accusing him of turning women into his "sex slaves."

It took a jury less than five hours to find Keith Raniere (rah-NEER'-ee) guilty of sex-trafficking and other charges Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors said the 58-year-old Raniere's organization, called NXIVM (NEHK'-see-uhm), was more like a cult. They said he formed a secret subgroup comprised of brainwashed female "slaves" who were forced to have sex with him and branded with his initials.

There also were accusations that he began having sex with one follower at age 15 and took nude photos of her.

Lawyers for Raniere said he never had any criminal intent and that his encounters with the women were consensual.

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