NXIVM members enlist Amanda Knox in bid to help leader Keith Raniere.

Click to play video 'Lawyers for NXIVM founder Keith Raniere speak about guilty verdict, say he’ll appeal'

WATCH: The lawyers for NXIVM founder Keith Raniere said the guilty verdict, which included racketeering and forcing women to have sex, was not the result they were hoping for and said they will appeal.

A group of NXIVM members have enlisted the help of Amanda Knox — an American woman who was convicted for a 2007 murder but ultimately exonerated — in a bid to help the group’s leader, Keith Raniere.

In mid-June of 2019, Raniere was found guilty on seven charges by a jury, including two counts of sex trafficking, racketeering and forced labour conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York. Other charges include attempted sex trafficking, wire fraud conspiracy and racketeering conspiracy.

The jury took less than five hours to deliberate after a trial that lasted around six weeks. The trial featured some disturbing details, including stories of Raniere and NXIVM members “branding” women near their genitals to mark them as part of the so-called “sex cult.”

Now, according to an Albany Times Union report, Knox, 30, has confirmed that she was approached by NXIVM members to sign a petition to aid Raniere. The petition demands prosecutors answer questions about alleged tampering with the jury, evidence and witnesses in Raniere’s case.

Knox confirmed her involvement to the Times Union via email, saying she signed the petition to help ensure a legitimate judicial process. She spent four years in an Italian prison before her 2011 acquittal for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

“I was contacted by some former members of NXIVM who claim that Mr. Raniere has been wrongfully convicted, and that the story being told in the media is wrong,” she said to the outlet. “I personally do not know enough about the case to make any judgments about whether his conviction is wrongful or not.

“These supporters of Mr. Raniere asked me to sign a petition asking the prosecutors in the case to affirm some principles of prosecutorial conduct that any prosecutor should be able to affirm, such as not engaging in perjury, not tampering with evidence, and not threatening witnesses,” she said. “I signed the petition because violation of these practices would constitute prosecutorial misconduct, regardless of Mr. Raniere’s guilt or innocence.”

The lawyer for NXIVM’s alleged victims, Neil Glazer, sees the petition as meritless and a last-ditch effort to save Raniere from a life in jail while keeping a semblance of the group intact.

Trending Stories

“It’s absurd in so many ways that I don’t know where to begin,” he told the Times Union. “I’ve never seen anything like this bizarre document in all my years of legal practice. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt, orchestrated by Raniere to throw up smoke and mirrors and to peddle conspiracy theories to keep his remaining disciples in the fold.”

The Times Union lists other signatories of the petition, including Valentino Dixon, a Buffalo, N.Y., man who spent 27 years in prison after being wrongly convicted for murder, and Diana Davison, the leader of Vancouver nonprofit The Lighthouse Project, which offers free assistance to the falsely accused.

Existing NXIVM members also plan to launch a podcast, hold an event they describe as a $35,000 “Innocence Challenge” and gather further signatures on the petition to help Raniere.

Raniere, now 60, is due to be sentenced on Oct. 27, which could see him facing life imprisonment.

NXIVM adherents included TV actor Allison Mack, best known for her role as a friend of a young Superman in the series Smallville , and Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress, Clare Bronfman.

Mack and Bronfman, who were named as defendants with Raniere in a federal indictment, pleaded guilty before they could go to trial with him. They didn’t testify, leaving a co-operating member of his inner circle and three victims from the secret sorority as the key witnesses.

The co-operator described how female “masters” forced “slaves” for Raniere to give up “collateral” — nude photos and other material that would ruin them if ever made public – to keep them in line.

One of the victims, whose name was withheld to protect her privacy, described being confined to a bedroom for more than 700 days on orders from Raniere as punishment for showing interest in another man. Another explained how Raniere lured her to a home when she was blindfolded and bound to a table so that another woman could perform a sex act on her, and the third recounted making up an excuse to leave the community so she could avoid completing an assignment from her “master” — Mack — to “seduce” Raniere.

Marc Agnifilo, the defence attorney during the trial, sought to point jurors to evidence of text and other messages between Raniere and the woman he said showed they had caring relationships that ended with “no hard feelings.” And since the group never released any of the collateral, “Where’s the extortion?” he asked.

But with the victims’ stories of abuse at the hands of Raniere, Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza said, “a light has been shown into the darkness and the defendant’s crimes have been exposed.”

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Related news

Ghislaine Maxwell transcripts revealed in Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse case.

The transcripts include seven hours of Maxwell discussing her relationship with the late Epstein, a convicted sex offender.

Republicans advance Amy Coney Barrett nomination despite Democratic boycott.

The 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court would lock a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future.

Risk Of Catching COVID-19 On A Plane «Very Low» , Not Zero: WHO.

The risk of COVID-19 spreading on flights appears "very low" but cannot be ruled out, despite studies showing only a small number of cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Kingston plumber offers free Halloween candy chutes for area residents.

Kingston plumber Dan Vokey says the response to his offer of free Halloween candy chutes has been overwhelming.

1 86

Russia Grants Edward Snowden Permanent Residency Rights: Reports.

Russia has granted US whistleblower Edward Snowden permanent residency rights, the TASS news agency cited Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as saying on Thursday.

Sri Lanka Files Appeal Against UK's Move To Remove LTTE From Terror List.

Sri Lanka has appealed against a judgement from Britain's Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission, which has delisted the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a proscribed terrorist...

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry calls on Russia to stop illegal archaeological excavations in occupied Crimea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine says a strong protest from the Russian Federation due to the archaeological excavations carried out within the so-called "Crimean War" project on the territory of the Alma Valley and in the city of Sevast...

Donald Trump, Joe Biden Face Off In Final Presidential Debate.

President Donald Trump squares off against Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday in what promises to be a bruising final debate with less than two weeks left in their turbulent fight for the...

Muted mics and coronavirus: What to watch in the final 2020 U.

It marks the candidates’ second and final face-to-face meeting, with Election Day less than two weeks away.

Saad Hariri Back As Lebanon PM A Year After Stepping Down Amid Protests.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun designated Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri as prime minister on Thursday to form a new government to tackle the worst crisis since the country's 1975-1990 civil...

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies