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Sentencing date set for NY self-help guru in sex slave case

FILE - In this June 18, 2019 courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Keith Raniere, center, sits with attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during closing arguments at Brooklyn federal court in New York.   Raniere and his lawyers filed a motion Monday, March 9, 2020 for a new trial, arguing that two witnesses perjured themselves when they denied they were planning to sue him after the trial. A jury convicted Keith Raniere in June on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex.  (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)
FILE - In this June 18, 2019 courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Keith Raniere, center, sits with attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during closing arguments at Brooklyn federal court in New York. Raniere and his lawyers filed a motion Monday, March 9, 2020 for a new trial, arguing that two witnesses perjured themselves when they denied they were planning to sue him after the trial. A jury convicted Keith Raniere in June on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)

NEW YORK – The leader of a cult-like self-improvement group in upstate New York who was convicted last year on charges that he turned some of his followers into sex slaves will face sentencing on Oct. 27, a judge said Friday.

In a conference call, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told lawyers for Keith Raniere he was making arrangements for the jailed Raniere to be sentenced in person at a federal court in Brooklyn and for his victims to speak to the court if they want.

“We need to figure out how to configure the courtroom to make sure everyone is safe” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the judge said.

At trial, prosecutors told jurors that the 59-year-old Raniere’s organization, NXIVM — pronounced NEHK-see-uhm — operated like a cult that won him the devotion of a wealthy heiress and Hollywood actresses. His adherents included actress Allison Mack of TV’s “Smallville”; an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, Clare Bronfman; and a daughter of TV star Catherine Oxenberg of “Dynasty” fame.

Prosecutors said he formed a secret subgroup comprised of brainwashed female “slaves” who were branded with his initials and forced to have sex with him.

Raniere is facing 15 years to life in prison.