Apr 29, 2022

In bid for freedom, notorious NXIVM sex cult leader claims to have proof of FBI evidence tampering

Nate Gartrell
The Mercury News
April 28, 2022

NEW YORK — Two years after he was convicted and sentenced to more than a century in federal prison for his leadership of an abusive sex cult known as NXIVM, Keith Raniere is moving for a new trial on the grounds that federal investigators forged a digital image to make it appear to be child pornography.

In a motion filed Thursday, attorneys for Raniere accused FBI agents of backdating a picture of a woman Raniere dated to appear as though it was taken in 2005, when the woman was underage. The photograph was presented as evidence Raniere possessed child pornography, which Raniere was ultimately convicted of, among other federal sex crimes.

The motion, filed by California-based attorney Joseph Tully on Raniere’s behalf, accuses federal investigators of improperly accessing the digital file after it had been seized during the service of a search warrant at Raniere’s Albany, New York, home. The motion argues that the evidence “would have resulted in a different result at trial,” and that the findings are backed up by three forensics experts, including a retired FBI agent.

“The backup folder where the contraband photographs were placed has all the hallmarks of fraud,” Tully wrote. “The dates and folder names on the WD HDD containing the alleged contraband photographs were manually altered to look autogenerated in a manner that comported with the government’s narrative.”

Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison and ordered to pay a whopping $3.4 million in restitution for crimes that included sex trafficking, child pornography possession, forced labor trafficking, identity theft, and multiple counts of conspiracy. It all centered on NXIVM, a cult and advertising company Raniere founded based in Albany, New York.

Dozens of victims were identified throughout the lengthy federal investigation.

Victims testifed at Raniere’s 2019 trial about the cult’s torturous undertakings, that included members being brainwashed, forced to take on a “slave” role, submit to brandings, undergo extreme dietary restrictions and document their food intake, and hand over embarrassing material as “collateral.” New members were admitted through a bizarre ritual where they were forced to read a script while nude.

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