Self Help

Witness: Self-help guru wanted women to be 'hungry dogs' – WHEC

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Raniere sometimes ordered them to paddle each other if they disobeyed his rules, Salzman said.

The testimony came in the second week of a trial where lawyers for Raniere have insisted his encounters with the women were consensual and meant to help with their personal growth.

Salzman, 42, took the stand as part of a plea deal in which she admitted to charges accusing her of making a lower-ranking member of the group stay inside a bedroom for two years as a form of discipline.

Mack, best known for her role as the friend of a young Superman in the “Smallville” series, has also pleaded guilty to participating in the collection of embarrassing material from followers – called “collateral” – that the group threatened to make public if they ever tried to defect and break their silence about their practices. It remains unclear if Mack will testify.

Salzman testified that collateral for the group – sometimes called “The Vow” – included nude photos with forced smiles that the women took of themselves when they met three times a week in their “sorority house.” Raniere would sometimes demand that they reshoot the photos if they didn’t turn out the way he wanted, she said.

She added: “The elephant in the room was that he was having sex with lots of these people.”

The women were branded as part of the initiation into the group, but only senior members were allowed to know that the brand represented Raniere’s initials, she said.

When she and others expressed concerns about keeping slaves in the dark about the meaning of the brands, Raniere told them, “It shouldn’t matter” and that “we were making problems,” she said.

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