Some of those women testified that they thought they were joining a women’s empowerment group, only to discover that they were directed to have sex with Mr. Raniere.
The women, referred to as “slaves,” needed permission to eat and were regularly required to hand over collateral like sexually explicit videos, which they constantly feared would be released. Prosecutors called it extortion.
On Tuesday, a former “slave” identified only as Nicole told the judge that the collateral was the only thing stopping her from spitting in Mr. Raniere’s face during her time in the group, which she described as the most degrading experience of her life.
“I had never agreed to give up the right to my body,” she said.
A jury convicted Mr. Raniere in June 2019 after a six-week trial. Prosecutors charged him with racketeering, applying a statute that had been used to dismantle the Mafia families in New York. Besides sex trafficking, the jury found him guilty of crimes that included child pornography, forced labor, identity theft and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors have said in court papers that Mr. Raniere deserves a life sentence, a punishment that is typically reserved for cases involving deaths or murders.
Mr. Raniere’s lawyers have argued that nobody was “shot, stabbed, punched, kicked, slapped or even yelled at.” This was not the typical organized crime case, and Mr. Raniere should get no more than 15 years in prison, they contended.
“No one has ever testified that he or she joined a drug gang or the Genovese Family or a cartel because they thought that by doing so, they could make the world better or bring a higher level of humanity to themselves and others,” his lawyers wrote.