An Italian “sex cult” led by a 77-year-old man nicknamed “the doctor” has been discovered by police.
Police raided the group’s headquarters in Novara, near Milan, on Sunday on suspicion of slavery and sexual abuse.
Police said the elderly cult leader, whom they did not name, used businesses, including dance schools, to lure and brainwash vulnerable young women.
He allegedly subjected them to sexual abuse and torture for 30 years.
The organization had a pyramid structure with the most loyal followers working closely with The Doctor, according to police.
The women adored their leader and referred to them as “beasts” who were forbidden to say his name, Il Messaggero reports.
They were also forced to sever all ties with their families or to convince them to join them.
One victim told police that “‘he’ decides everything” – with their movements, their work and even who they talk to, all dictated by the doctor.
He persuaded them to submit to sexual abuse and torture that would “ignite their inner fire” and give them access to a “magical, fantastic and secret world”.
And they faced social isolation if they disobeyed.
Among the most loyal were psychologists who allegedly helped identify new women to indoctrinate.
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Police believe the organization was founded 30 years ago and was active until their raids.
They had been investigating the cult for two years after being informed by a former member.
Agents also searched Milan, Genoa and Pavia.
No arrests were announced and police did not say how many people were involved.