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As if the Nxivm case couldn't get any stranger! Allison Mack, the Smallville actor who was charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy has come up with her defense, and it's based in Scientology.
Mack's attorney claims that blackmailing Nxivm members by threatening to expose nude photos and disparaging statements if they did not perform sexual services does not technically constitute "forced labor." The attorney's basis for this claim? A 2009 case involving the Church of Scientology, in which two members of the church unsuccessfully sued for forced labor.
The Crazy Background of Nxivm and DOS
The Nxivm cult was a pyramid scheme, with Keith Raniere at the apex, and Allison Mack being one of his direct underlings. Mack, and a few noteworthy others, would enlist others to join the group, which claimed to empower women. Its classes cost thousands of dollars, and group members were highly encouraged and incentivized to get others to join as well.
In 2015, a secret society within Nxivm, called DOS, was created. DOS operated with levels of women "slaves" headed by "masters," with subsequent recruits, all females, becoming slaves beneath the incumbent masters. Raniere was at the top of the pyramid, and Mack was in the first level of the pyramid right below Raniere. To join DOS, women had to provide "collateral," in the form of highly incriminating information about themselves or loved ones, nude photos, or financial assets. These new incumbents were told their collateral would be used against them if they told anyone about DOS's existence or tried to leave DOS. In addition, many DOS slaves were branded on their pelvic areas in a ceremony requiring them to be fully naked, restrained, and filmed.
Tying in the Scientology Defense
Mack's attorney claims that threatening to release the collateral is not blackmail, and thus did not lead to forced labor from DOS members. In a 2009 Scientology lawsuit, two church members failed to prove that they were being forced to stay in the church through a blackmailing scheme. "The court did not find that plaintiffs were compelled to remain in the organization even though, if they chose to leave, they would be 'excommunicated' from their friends and family and labeled a 'dissenter,'" cited Mack's attorney. "The threat of reputational damage and isolation from loved ones therefore did not qualify as serious harm."
However, it remains to be seen if the court will find that excommunication from the church and being labeled a dissenter, is the same as sharing nude photos or being branded. And it may be hard for this attorney to prove that being forced to stay in Scientology, no matter how bad Leah Remini says it is, is the same as being forced to have sex with Nxivm founder, Keith Raniere.