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Seagram heiress admits guilt in Nxivm ‘sex cult’

Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram drinks fortune, has pleaded guilty to her role in the alleged sex cult Nxivm.

Clare Bronfman is part of the Seagram liquor dynasty, one of the world’s largest distillers that operated between 1857 and 2000

Bronfman’s father was Edgar Bronfman, the former president of Canadian distiller Seagram Company, which developed some of the world’s most famous spirits brands including Chivas Regal Scotch and Captain Morgan rum.

According to the BBC, Bronfman, a former equestrian, was a “high-ranking member” of Nxivm and sat on its executive board. She has been accused of using more than US$100 million (£77m) to fund Nxivm, positioned as a self-development company for executives that prosecutors have accused of harbouring a secret sex slave operation.

Nxivm was founded by Keith Raniere, who is accused of running a cult-like sect in upstate New York in which women were coerced into having sex with him and were branded with his initials. Nxivm has suspended all “enrolment, curriculum and events until further notice”.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Bronfman’s association with Raniere started in 2003 when she started to work with his Rational Inquiry programme, described as a “new tool for developing human potential”.

Bronfman has pleaded guilty to harbouring an undocumented immigrant brought to the US using a fake visa to be exploited for labour. According to The Guardian, Bronfman also admitted to helping Raniere use a deceased woman’s credit card.

The heiress, who told a court she was “truly remorseful”, agreed to pay US$6m and will not appeal any prison sentence of 27 months or less.

Bronfman is the fifth person to plead guilty in the case, following Smallville actress Allison Mack, who admitted to recruiting women for Nxivm, and the group’s accountant Kathy Russell.

Raniere was arrested in March and is being held without bail. He faces charges of sex trafficking and forced labour conspiracy, which he denies.

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