NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York actress Allison Mack was arrested Friday on charges that she aided self-help guru Keith Raniere in running a secret society that enslaved women and branded them with his initials, federal prosecutors said.
Mack, 35, has been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn. She is expected to appear in Brooklyn federal court Friday afternoon.
Mack is known for her role in the WB Television series “Smallville.” Her lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
U.S. authorities have accused Mack of recruiting women to join what purported to be a female mentorship group but was actually a secret society led by Raniere. Prosecutors said recruits were forced to have sex with Raniere and were branded with his initials.
Raniere was arrested in March. Prosecutors said he coerced women by threatening to release personal information and taking their assets. His lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
Raniere, 57, has run a network of self-help groups based in Albany, New York called Nxivm over the past 20 years.
The women in his secret society, who numbered as many as 50, were forced to adhere to strict diet to stay thin, prosecutors have said.
Upon joining, they were required to provide information about family and friends, nude photographs and rights to their assets – so-called collateral used to threaten them if they left, prosecutors said.
The women were taught that the society would empower and strengthen them, according to prosecutors.
Mack helped force the women to have sex with Raniere and received financial and other benefits from Raniere in exchange, prosecutors said.
On its website, Nxivm calls itself “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.”
In a letter on the site, Raniere said he was “deeply saddened” and denied “abusing, coercing or harming” anyone.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York