The Truth About Keith Raniere And Allison Mack's Relationship

The following article includes mention of sexual assault and abuse.

Years following her 2018 arrest for charges originally ranging from sex trafficking to forced labor as a high-ranking member of the cult NXIVM, "Smallville" actor Allison Mack finally had her day of reckoning. On June 30, Judge Nicholas Garaufis sentenced her to three years in prison, per The Cut. Mack, who pled guilty to racketeering in 2019, initially faced up to 40 years for her conviction (which, to wit, was still technically less than the life term she could have received for the original criminal counts against her). 

While much of Mack's involvement with regards to aiding and abetting NXIVM leader Keith Raniere's many, many abuses has since been covered extensively in the media — among which included the pervasive sexual assault of a number of women and minors within the group — the interceding years seemingly gave Mack the ability to fully realize the gravity of her actions. Mack, who reportedly helped federal officials in their investigation of NXIVM and Raniere a year after her arrest, said the following in a statement to the court before sentencing (via The Cut): "I stand before you today filled with remorse and guilt," before adding "I renounce Keith Raniere and all his teachings." 

Despite her definitive parting from the man she once reverently called "Vanguard," it's fair to wonder how Mack first landed in his orbit and how they perpetrated and maintained a culture of de facto slavery and rampant abuse. So, how did it happen?

Allison Mack was enthralled with Keith Raniere from the beginning

In HBO's acclaimed ten-part docuseries "The Vow," which used footage taken by director and former NXIVM member Mark Vicente throughout the years he spent as one of Keith Raniere's devout acolytes, per The Hollywood Reporter, the series producers managed to find and incorporate the moment Raniere and Allison Mack first met. As shown in the documentary's fourth episode, titled "Building Character," per Vulture, Mack was introduced to Raniere shortly before or during 2006, the same year she officially joined NXIVM after attending an offshoot seminar for JNess, a sub-organization within the cult specifically for women, per The Hollywood Reporter

It seems Mack was invited to Raniere's de facto compound in Clifton Park, a suburb of Albany, where, according to the archival footage featured in "The Vow," Mack watched Raniere and other NXIVM members partake in the cult leader's now-infamous midnight volleyball games, per Jezebel. Afterward, Raniere approached.

Vulture described Mack's first encounter with Raniere as "bizarre, almost like she was waiting to be sucked into something, anything, so long as it offered her a little love." The outlet noted how she "[tossed] out hypersexualized comments" in relation to Raniere overseeing an "EM" (NXIVM's shorthand for a process which higher-ups extracted their followers' past traumas under the guise of healing, used later to manipulate them), stating that he had "popped" Mack's "EM cherry." But it was Mack's longing for a purpose that was even more palpable.

Allison Mack rose up the NXIVM ranks after a traumatic death

Per Vulture's coverage of the events depicted and discussed in HBO's "The Vow," both the documentary and the outlet tracked Allison Mack's rise within the ranks of NXIVM, initially presented to unknowing novitiates as a self-betterment program and lifestyle, which were seemingly expedited by the death of leader Keith Raniere's longtime partner, Pam Cafritz, who cofounded the NXIVM subgroup JNess and ostensibly took Mack under her tutelage. 

Describing Cafriz, the daughter of two socialites, as "the woman who essentially made NXIVM happen with her devotion to his genius — and her own warmth and accessibility," Vulture highlighted that after Cafritz died of renal cancer in 2016 (per The Sun), a position in NXIVM's highest echelon was invariably vacant; it was one that Mack herself inherited, assumed, or both. As Vulture put it: "When Pam died of cancer, Alli sobbed. Then she took her place." 

The move also allowed Raniere to fully utilize Mack's status as a celebrity to further NXIVM's influence, credibility, and reach to its fullest extent.

Allison Mack was both a victim of Keith Raniere and an abuser of others

"The Vow" and other media coverage has not shied away from how Allison Mack was also a victim of Keith Raniere. As a member of his inner circle, she was made to starve herself to retain his ideal figure and was subject to sleep deprivation (per The New York Times). But she was also instrumental in his sex trafficking, providing Raniere sex with NXIVM members using blackmail, coercion, branding, and abuse under the guise of DOS, a secret society within the cult, per CNN

As evidenced by a tape Mack later submitted to prosecutors in 2019 (via Variety), she was involved with the branding mark that DOS members received during an initiation ceremony. Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmonson, who later emerged as one of the primary whistleblowers of the goings-on in DOS, was the first to figure out that the brand, which had been posited as a symbol of the elements, was an insidious proclamation of their ownership over her body, per The New York Times. And the mark was strategically and disturbingly placed near followers' pubic bones.

One could say Mack's relationship with Raniere ended in 2018 when she was arrested — the same year Raniere was apprehended by Mexican authorities after fleeing the U.S. and after his crimes were finally exposed. And while some existing NXIVM members continue to rally against Raniere's 120-year sentence, per Bustle, Mack won't be among them.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).