Former Smallville actor Allison Mack was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday after she pleaded guilty more than two years ago to racketeering and conspiracy charges for her role in the secret sex trafficking cult NXIVM.
Mack was sentenced to 36 months for racketeering and 36 months for racketeering conspiracy, and she will serve both at the same time, NBC New York reported. In addition, she will have to do 1,000 hours of community service and will have three years of probation after her release. She also must pay a $20,000 fine.
Mack told the court on Wednesday morning she was "in a cloud of delusion" and "fought" to escape who she had become under NXIVM leader Keith Raniere's influence, Spectrum News 1 reported. She also said she cannot take back what she did and that she was sorry for her actions.
US District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his sentencing that he accounted for the "hard work" Mack had done to restore herself since working for the group. Victims delivered impact statements in court.
Social media footage shows the actor said nothing to the swarms of media surrounding her as she left the court. She will have to report to prison by late September.
Mack’s sentencing marks the latest chapter in the fallout that began with a 2017 New York Times investigation into NXIVM, which was created by Raniere. Mack was arrested the next year and charged with sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and forced labor within DOS, a secret sex trafficking cult under NXIVM. Raniere was also arrested and sentenced after a nearly six-week trial in October 2020 to more than 120 years in prison.
Prior to sentencing, Mack filed a letter with the court asking for no jail time, saying she had turned her life around with academic studies and reconnecting with family. “From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry,” she wrote in the letter.
“I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Raniere with everything I had. I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself,” her letter states. “I devoted my loyalty, my resources, and, ultimately, my life to him. This was the biggest mistake and regret of my life.”
“Is she as guilty as Keith Raniere? No,” Amanda Montell, author of cult exposé Cultish, told BuzzFeed News of Mack’s sentencing. “But is she totally absolved because she was ‘mind-controlled’? No. She didn't have a gun to her head, so to speak. She had the choice not to do what she did, and she chose to do it anyway. She did it under extreme pressure, but she didn't have to. … She probably doesn't even know why she let it get that far.”
Mack’s lawyer did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Federal prosecutors had asked Garaufis to give Mack a reduced sentence, citing her assistance in Raniere’s conviction by providing them with an incriminating audiotape.
“Although Mack could have provided even more substantial assistance had she made the decision to cooperate earlier, Mack provided significant, detailed and highly corroborated information which assisted the government in its prosecution,” prosecutors said in the memo, according to Variety. “The government recognizes the seriousness of the offense conduct in this case which … caused extraordinary harm and pain to the victims in this case.”
In the recording, Raniere and Mack discuss how to brand his “slaves.”
“And the person should ask to be branded,” he says in the recording. “Should say, ‘Please brand me, it would be an honor,’ or something like that. ‘An honor I want to wear for the rest of my life.’ I don’t know. … And they should probably say that before they’re held down so it doesn’t seem like they are being coerced.”
Raniere pulled women into “master-slave” relationships disguised by NXIVM’s pro-woman mission, with Mack as his second-in-command, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Prosecutors alleged that Mack had received money or other gifts from him in return for requiring her “slaves” to participate in sexual activities with their top “master,” Raniere.
“Mack … recruited DOS slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses that the Nxivm curriculum taught were common in women,” prosecutors said.
The 38-year-old actor originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. She changed course in April 2019 when she pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of racketeering. In a tearful speech, Mack revealed to a court that she had kept a “slave” and ordered women to either “perform services for [her]” or face damaging consequences.
"I have come to the conclusion that I must take full responsibility for my conduct and that’s why I am pleading guilty today," Mack said at the time, Complex reported. "I am very sorry for my role in this case. I am very sorry to my family and to the good people I hurt through my misguided adherence to Keith Raniere’s teachings."
Mack has not admitted to the totality of prosecutors’ sex trafficking allegations, including that DOS had threatened women if they did not perform “labor services,” subjected women to branding “ceremonies” in which Raniere’s initials were burned into their pubic regions, or that she had blackmailed women into performing sexual acts with him by threatening to leak their nude photos or financial information, which they were required to submit in order to join NXIVM. Raniere has denied his participation in the branding ritual.
“Through it all, I believed that Raniere’s intention was to help people. I was wrong," Mack told the court in 2019, according to the New York Daily News.
Montell said she doesn’t think of Mack as someone who was “brainwashed,” “desperate,” or “intellectually deficient,” despite how her actions may appear to the outside world.
“Sometimes people will join a group like [NXIVM] because they're extremely vulnerable, but optimism and idealism is always a part of the package,” Montell said. “If you're a cynic who doesn't think that there are solutions to the world's most urgent problems, you're probably not going to join up with a group like this, because you're not going to buy what it's selling. I think Allison Mack, her privilege, combined with her charisma, combined with her idealism was really the lethal combo here.”