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Seagram's Heiress And Alleged Nxivm 'Sex Cult' Benefactor Would Like To Leave Brooklyn, Please

Clare Bronfman at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, June 2017
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Clare Bronfman at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, June 2017 Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

Seagram's heiress and alleged sex cult benefactor Clare Bronfman would like a little latitude in her current home confinement, and has requested that a Brooklyn judge let her visit Manhattan while she awaits trial.

Bronfman bankrolled the purported self-help group Nxivm—which notoriously branded members with the leader's initials and reportedly enabled rampant sexual coercion—and now faces a raft of charges, including money laundering, identity theft, extortion, and various other shades of fraud and conspiracy. After her July arrest, she posted a $100 million bond and was permitted home detention. According to the New York Post, Bronfman's attorney has proposed "that Ms. Bronfman would be allowed to travel in Manhattan up to 96th Street, in Brooklyn only insofar as to include the EDNY Courthouse, not to include airports, and would not travel outside this pre-approved zone unless she obtains prior approval." Whether or not federal judge Nicholas Garaufis will grant that request remains to be seen.

Reportedly a reluctant recruit, Bronfman came to Nxivm via her sister, Sara, in the early aughts: The pair eventually funneled some $150 million into Nxivum, according to a 2010 Vanity Fair profile. Once on board, however, Bronfman quickly rose to a position of prominence within the group, allegedly helping leader Keith Raniere flout the legal system to bring women into the country, and falsifying one of his dead sex partner's credit card records so Raniere could keep making charges. Raniere and another of his right-hand associates, Smallville actress Allison Mack, have been accused of a wide range of sexually abusive acts.

As the New York Times reported in October, higher-ups within Nxivm recruited women into the group, promising them strategies for professional advancement. Some of these women ended up "slaves" in Dominus Obsequious Sororium (or DOS, a secret sub-group with Nxivm) and were obligated to sexually service Raniere. They also received the aforementioned brands on their hips. Raniere fled the country, but in March, the authorities caught up with him in Mexico and arrested him on charges of sex trafficking and forced labor.

Upon Bronfman's arrest, her lawyer—Susan Necheles—emailed Gothamist a statement insisting that her client "did nothing wrong" and that "Nxivm was not a criminal enterprise, but instead was an organization that helped thousands of people."

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