TODAY |

New York trial begins for self-help guru accused of sex trafficking

A New York City jury listened to opening statements from a woman today who testified about how she was recruited into a secret sorority that prosecutors say consisted of sex slaves for the former leader of an upstate New York self-help group. 

The woman said that she was under orders to try and "seduce" Keith Raniere as part of her initiation in 2015.

She claimed Raniere got her to text nude photos as a prelude to meeting with him in person.

A federal prosecutor said Raniere used threats, "shame and humiliation" while grooming women for sex.

The prosecutor alleged that Raniere had sex with a 15-year-old girl and took nude photos of her.

She also described how some female followers were branded with Raniere's initials.

The former leader of the group called NXIVM, which has been likened to a cult, claims his encounters with several alleged victims were consenual.

The self-help guru has pleaded not guilty to turning followers into sex slaves.

Raniere's lawyer said his client has been misunderstood and that his methods were meant to help people.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

    Your playlist will load after this ad

    Women have accused Keith Raniere, former leader of NXIVM, of forcing them to have sex with him. Source: Associated Press