Nov 21, 2023

A Silicon Valley 'Orgasm Cult' Has Been Sued for Sex Trafficking

A former employee for OneTaste alleges she was forced to have sex with potential investors and other members of the group


Rolling Stone


NOVEMBER 21, 2023


THE LEADERS OF OneTaste, a sexual wellness organization and so-called “orgasm cult” that briefly enjoyed popularity in the mid-2010s, have been charged with sex trafficking, according to court documents.

Nicole Daedone and Rachel Cherwitz, the former CEO and head of sales for the now-defunct startup OneTaste, are being sued by a former employee in the Southern District of New York for allegedly “[using] means of force, threats of force, fraud, and a variety of other forms of coercion” to compel the employee to “engage in commercial sex acts as a form of forced labor for Defendants.”

The former employee, who is named in the suit only as Jane Doe, alleges that she was “forced to participate in unwanted commercial sexual acts with her co-workers, as a ‘requirement’ for her employment” and to have sex with potential customers to entice them to give money to the company. The suit alleges that Daedone and Cherwitz subjected OneTaste members and employees to “economic, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse, surveillance, indoctrination, and intimidation.”

Founded in 2004 by Daedone, OneTaste was marketed as a sexual wellness company that peddled the benefits of orgasmic meditation, or “OM-ing.” OM-ing, as defined by Daedone and OneTaste, involved stroking a woman’s clitoris and vulva in a specific fashion for fifteen minutes. Courses were pricey, with some costing upwards of about $7,500; men were also charged extra. According to Daedone, the practice was intended to strengthen women’s sexual lives, allowing them to connect more easily with their sexual partners.

OneTaste received a great deal of press in the early 2010s, including a viral TEDTalk by Daedone and a 2013 longform Gawker investigation by Nitasha Tiku, called “My Life With the Thrill-Clit Cult.” Media coverage of OneTaste largely painted it as a bizarre, if not largely innocuous, organization on the fringes of Silicon Valley, and it ultimately expanded to various major cities across the United States, reportedly pulling in an estimated $12 million in revenue by 2017.

In June 2018, however, Bloomberg published an in-depth expose of OneTaste, in which 16 former employees and OneTaste members alleged that the group “resembled a kind of prostitution ring — one that exploited trauma victims and others searching for healing.” “In some members’ experiences, the company used flirtation and sex to lure emotionally vulnerable targets. It taught employees to work for free or cheap to show devotion. And managers frequently ordered staffers to have sex or OM with each other or with customers,” reporter Ellen Huet wrote. (OneTaste denied the allegations at the time, calling them “outrageous.”) The expose also revealed that an employee had previously sued the company for suffering sexual assault and harassment on the job; though they denied the allegations, it resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 2015.

The exposes prompted multiple documentaries about OneTaste, most notably the 2022 Netflix documentary Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste. It also prompted an FBI investigation, culminating in Daedone and Cherwitz being indicted on forced labor charges in June 2023. Prosecutors alleged that Daedone and Cherwitz intentionally targeted vulnerable individuals to recruit them to join the organization, instructing them to engage in sexual activity and to live communally with other members. The two have pleaded not guilty, and each face a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

The latest lawsuit expands on these allegations, with Jane Doe alleging that she was employed by the organization between 2008 and 2014 as an audiovisual specialist, living and working with other OneTaste employees at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “During her time with OneTaste, Jane Doe was forced to engage in sexual intercourse with co-workers as a way of solving problems in the workplace,” the lawsuit reads, adding that she was “subjected to verbal abuse, threats of castigation from the OneTaste community, name calling and financial punishments if she did not participate in the “OM” sessions or in the company policy that she have sex with other members to ‘calm work tensions.'”

The suit alleges that the company also forced the plaintiff to engage in sex acts with potential customers as a way of encouraging them to spend money on classes. “When OneTaste members declined to participate in sexual activities, Defendants and their employees and agents chastised, humiliated, embarrassed and withheld pay from OneTaste members,” the lawsuit says.

Daedone and Cherwitz did not respond to a request for comment.


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