This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Allison Mack, the actress best known for her role on the early-2000s teen series Smallville, has pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. She admitted to extortion and forced labour, and could face up to 40 years in prison at a September sentencing.
“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 told a Brooklyn courtroom Monday.
Mack, 36, was first arrested a year ago and charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor in relation to her role in a secretive women’s empowerment group that allegedly blackmailed and branded women. She was later charged with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy as part of a wider prosecution of a group that experts have called a destructive cult.
For more than a decade Mack has been a coach and recruiter for NXIVM, a self-help organization that claims to help people let go of fears that hold them back from career and relationship success. Since 1998 the company has sold expensive five-day seminars and branched out into yoga, parenting, acting, and other pyramid-like recruitment efforts.
A federal indictment alleges that NXIVM’s founder Keith Raniere conspired with “front line slaves” to create a secret group called DOS. Women “masters” allegedly recruited “slaves” and required them to hand over damaging “collateral” the women believed would be released if they told anybody about the secret group.
Text messages revealed in court documents show Raniere requested the women recruit "fuck toy" slaves to give him energy. In a secret initiation ceremony, the women were branded near their bikini line with a symbol that combined Raniere and Mack’s initials.
Mack is the third person to plead guilty in the so-called “sex cult” case. NXIVM president Nancy Salzman, as well as her daughter Lauren Salzman, have also pleaded to racketeering conspiracy charges. Lauren Salzman was also a member of the secret “slave” group and admitted to conspiring to imprison one woman for more than a year.
In a conversation with the New York Times Magazine last year, Mack said the branding was her idea. “I was like: ‘Y’all, a tattoo? People get drunk and tattooed on their ankle ‘BFF,’ or a tramp stamp,” she told the Times. “I have two tattoos and they mean nothing.’”
Three members of NXIVM, including heiress Clare Bronfman, bookkeeper Kathy Russell, and founder Keith Raneire, are scheduled to stand trial April 29.
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