Vancouver actress who spoke out against NXIVM cult reacts to leader’s jail sentence

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VANCOUVER – Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson says she breathes easier after cult leader Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday for sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering. “I woke up very aware of how much safer and proud I feel for everything we have done,” she said of efforts to expose Raniere and put him behind bars.

Edmondson was an actress in Vancouver in 2005 when a filmmaker she respected introduced her to NXIVM, which was touted as a personal and professional development program.

“I spent many years learning wonderful things, great tools, great community. And it wasn’t until the very end that I found out what it really was, ”said Edmondson, who worked as a recruiter for the group. “When I understood I was absolutely shocked, I had the impression that the carpet was ripped off me.

When she went to the FBI in 2017, she was not the first member of NXIVM to try to expose Raniere. But she had evidence on her body. Edmondson had been scarred by the group and had a scar on his hip that spelled the initials of Raniere and her fellow actress and NXIVM member Allison Mack.

“The guarantee I had given, also known as blackmail, was used to get me to do it,” Edmondson said. “I had a physical mark on my body that got people’s attention to say, what’s going on in this band? I became the face of it that way.

Other cult members started talking to authorities, and prosecutors built a case in New York. “They didn’t need me to testify at the end, which was great,” said Edmondson. “I don’t think we could ask for a better sentence. I was really hoping for life in prison – 120 years is much better.

Edmondson wrote a book about his escape from NXIVM and last year a Vancouver plastic surgeon removed the mark on his hip. “She just looked at the scar and we made an appointment and she cut it off my body. And I don’t have those initials on my body anymore, I’m very proud of it, ”she said.

The mother-of-two hopes to work as a counselor for those who want to quit worship, believing she has a unique insight into what makes members follow leaders like Raniere.

“I’ve always been afraid that he would find a loophole because he’s good at it,” said Edmondson. “But today we know that justice has been served.”

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