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Closing arguments begin in trial of self-improvement group founder

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019 file courtroom drawing, defendant Keith Raniere, center, leader of the secretive group NXIVM, is seated between his attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during the first day of his sex trafficking trial. Photo: Elizabeth Williams via AP, File. FILE - In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019 file courtroom drawing, defendant Keith Raniere, center, leader of the secretive group NXIVM, is seated between his attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during the first day of his sex trafficking trial.

June 17, 2019 11:14 AM

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal prosecutor says the former spiritual leader of a cult-like self-improvement group was a "con man" and a "crime boss."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza delivered closing arguments on Monday at the trial of Keith Raniere.

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Penza recounted testimony that Raniere had some of his brainwashed female followers branded with his initials, forced one to have sex with another woman and confined a third to a room for nearly two years for defying his orders.

The prosecutor said he used his NXIVM organization to "tap into a never-ending flow of women and money."

She said Raniere "was a ruler with no limits and no checks on his power."

Attorneys for Raniere say he had no criminal intent and that his sexual encounters with followers were consensual.

Credits

AP

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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