Apr 27, 2018

20/20 on ABC NXIVM

BWW News Desk 
April 27, 2018

All eyes were on "Smallville" actress and NXIVM member Allison Mack earlier this week as she emerged from court on a $5 million bond following her arrest on charges of sex trafficking. "20/20" investigates NXIVM, the self-proclaimed professional coaching company, and speaks with former members who have come forward claiming that while they derived some benefit from NXIVM classes, the experience also took a big toll on their lives. The hour reports on Mack, who allegedly tried to recruit other celebrities, including Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson, via Twitter. "20/20" also details sex-trafficking charges against NXIVM founder Keith Raniere and includes Anchor Elizabeth Vargas' interview with former member Sarah Edmondson. "20/20" airs on Friday, April 27 (10:01 - 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.

Federal prosecutors allege that Mack recruited women to join what they thought was a female mentorship group, but was in fact a secret society within NXIVM "created and led by Keith Raniere." The victims, prosecutors allege, "were then exploited both sexually and for their labor." Mack has pleaded not guilty; Raniere has not yet entered a plea, although his attorneys have said that he is innocent of the charges.

In the interview with Vargas, Edmondson claims that this secret society is manipulative, promoting subservient behavior with slave and master terminology. She also says that she and other women were branded during their initiation into the secret society. Raniere has stated on NXIVM's website that the secret society is not part of NXIVM and he is not associated with it. According to its website, NXIVM claims to "provide the basis and conditions for all people to explore and actualize their potential so that they can come to live purposeful lives." In a complaint she filed with the New York Department of Health, Edmondson says she went to the initiation for the secret society expecting to receive a tattoo and was surprised to learn that she and others were to be branded. She tells Vargas that the branding procedure, in which she and other women took turns holding each other's legs while they received their brands with a cauterizing iron, was "horrific"; and she says she later realized that the brands contained Raniere's initials. Vargas also sits down with Mark Vicente, a member for 12 years, and Toni Natalie, a former girlfriend of Raniere's who knew him before he started NXIVM. "20/20" also reports on another Hollywood actress who is a known NXIVM member, India Oxenberg, daughter of "Dynasty" actress Catherine Oxenberg. Vargas sits down with Catherine, who details her so far unsuccessful efforts to convince her daughter to leave the group. "20/20" also explores NXIVM's litigation tactics against former members and critics.

"20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.


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