Leader of secretive group appears before federal judge

Friday , April 13, 2018 - 3:23 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The leader of a secretive group accused of coercing female followers into having sex and getting branded with his initials remains behind bars after a federal court appearance.

Keith Raniere responded “Yes, your honor” when the judge asked whether he understood the charges against him: sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy.

Raniere was arrested in Mexico and brought to the United States on March 26. He did not enter a plea during the brief hearing Friday in Brooklyn. His attorney said no bail is currently being requested.

In March, federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence connected to Raniere’s group, called NXIVM. The cult-like organization also ran programs in Mexico.

Onlookers in the courtroom included a former girlfriend of the defendant who left the group in 2009.

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