The co-founder of the NXIVM sex cult is asking her 42-month prison sentence be cut short because she hasn’t been able to get an MRI more than four months after a test showed possible breast cancer.
On Monday, a federal judge ordered Nancy Salzman, 69, get an MRI within 30 days, telling her lawyers, “You come see me,” if her prison misses that deadline.
Salzman, the ‘prefect’ of the upstate self-help sex cult run by Keith Raniere, is already on track for a possible early release to a halfway house or home confinement on Sept. 7, and is slated to finish her sentence on July 17 of next year.
Her lawyers were asking that home confinement start immediately, making a request for compassionate release under the First Step Act.
On March 23, she got a “worrisome finding” on an ultrasound, and the jailers at her medium-security prison in Hazelton, W.Va., haven’t scheduled any meaningful followup since, lawyer Robert Soloway told Judge Nicholas Garaufis Monday.
“Ms. Salzman has spent her life because of her family history, which is a tragic family history, being attentive and diligent to her needs, her medical needs,” Soloway said, asking the judge to release her to home confinement. That way, he said, she’s be able to get an MRI within a week and schedule a doctor’s appointment shortly after.
“The medical powers that be at the BOP [Bureau of Prisons] have failed to do the things that need to be done to protect her life,” Soloway said.
Philip Boch, a health care administrator at the prison, said that Salzman was on track to get an MRI within the next 30 days, and would likely see an oncologist within three months, then a general surgeon within six months.
Garaufis pressed Boch and her prison doctor, Gregory Sims, on that timeline, and questioned if she asked the warden for a medical furlough, but didn’t cut her sentence short. Rather, he set a status conference for Sept. 6 — and demanded the MRI.
“I’m very serious about getting the MRI done,” he said. “This is a defendant with a history of breast cancer, and a 42-month sentence — which I imposed upon the defendant — is not a death sentence. We don’t want to turn it into a death sentence.”
Salzman has a family history of cancer and has suffered two previous bouts of breast cancer, including in 2018 when she needed a right radical mastectomy, according to her defense lawyer.
Salzman served as second-in-command to the NXIVM leader, who is serving 120 years in prison for sex trafficking.
Salzman pleaded guilty to identity theft in 2019 for changing user names and passwords of people identified as the cult’s enemies, and also edited video footage before turning it over in a federal lawsuit to protect Raniere.
Evidence showed Salzman was a master manipulator skilled in psychology and hypnosis who used “exploration of meaning” sessions to discover NXIVM members’ past traumas and vulnerabilities, which she would then exploit. She recruited her own daughter into NXIVM, but has maintained that she didn’t know about the sex cult part of the operation.
Alleged sex cult leader Keith Raniere appears in an undated video screen grab. His cult allegedly branded women as sex slaves.
Raniere secretly operated a sex cult with NXIVM known as DOS, requiring women to be branded with his initials on their pubic regions and keeping “collateral” like naked photos and incriminating information about their families to keep them under his thumb.
Salzman claimed that Raniere manipulated her for years, convincing her he was out to change the world while accumulating power to have sex with whomever he pleased.
Earlier this month, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, who recruited women into the sadistic cult, was released from a California prison more than a year shy of her three-year sentence.