Despite flirty text messages she sent to NXIVM’s “sex cult” leader, a witness testifying against him said she wanted no part of him — even pretending to be asleep when he approached her for sex with his pants down.
The witness, a Mexican woman named only as Daniela, said she was doing some work at the Albany home NXIVM leader Keith Raniere shared with at least two other women, including Daniela’s older sister.
Daniela said she fell asleep on the couch, but was awakened when Raniere approached her. She had been intimate with him before, she said, but Raniere had cut her off after she revealed her interest in another group member.
His renewed interest surprised her, she said, but she just pretended to be asleep.
“I was playing dead,” Daniela told jurors at Raniere’s sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn Federal Court. “He walks up closer. He pulls his pants down and he puts his genitals on my face. I continued to pretend I was asleep. We made eye contact and I just pretended I was asleep again.”
Prosecutor Moira Penza asked Daniela, 33, if she had wanted to participate.
“If I had I would have woken up,” Daniela said. “No, I didn’t want that.”
She admitted at the time she was sending him flirty and sexual emails but said NXIVM leaders were instructing her to do that on Keith’s behalf.
“I was not a sex-crazed person who is wanting to give oral sex all the time,” Daniela said. “That’s not who I am.”
Daniela said Raniere, in a fit of jealousy, even recruited her parents to help discipline her after her brief fling with another member. She said she was confined to her parents’ house in Halfmoon, N.Y. Years earlier, Daniela had stolen $6,000 from the group, and returned it the next day. But that was the reason her parents were given for the punishment, she said. Raniere could not tell them about his own sexual relationship with Daniela, she said.
She was confined in a small room for two years, she said.
“I could not go outside of the house." she said. "I couldn’t sleep without permission. I could not eat without permission.”
Once, she cut her hair. which resulted in a longer punishment.
Her family cut off contact also, except to deliver meals. They knocked on the door and left the food outside, she said.
“Nobody wanted me,” she said she told herself. “I’m in a world where nobody knows that I’m losing my life. It was never going to end.”
Daniela has previously testified that Raniere used her immigration status against her to keep her in line, and ignored her when she sought an abortion. She also said Raniere had erectile dysfunction.
Raniere, 58, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges. He claims his encounters with the alleged victims were consensual.
Federal authorities said the organization is a cult rife with female slaves recruited and literally branded for Raniere’s sexual pleasure.
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