‘Smallville’ actress arrested in self-help guru's NY sex traffic case

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - New York actress Allison Mack was arrested Friday on charges that she aided self-help guru Keith Raniere in running a secret society that enslaved women and branded them with his initials, federal prosecutors said.

Mack, 35, has been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn. She is expected to appear in Brooklyn federal court Friday afternoon.

Mack is known for her role in the WB Television series "Smallville." Her lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. authorities have accused Mack of recruiting women to join what purported to be a female mentorship group but was actually a secret society led by Raniere. Prosecutors said recruits were forced to have sex with Raniere and were branded with his initials.

Raniere was arrested in March. Prosecutors said he coerced women by threatening to release personal information and taking their assets. His lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

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BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 04: Actress Allison Mack arrives at the United States Eastern District Court after a bail hearing in relation to the sex trafficking charges filed against her on May 4, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The actress known for her role on 'Smallville' is charged with sex trafficking. Along with alleged cult leader Keith Raniere, prosecutors say Mack recruited women to a upstate New york mentorship group NXIVM that turned them into sex slaves. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Actor Allison Mack, known for her role in the TV series 'Smallville', exits with her lawyer following a hearing on charges of sex trafficking in relation to the Albany-based organization Nxivm at United States Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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Actress Allison Mack arrives at the Hollywood FX Summer Comedies Party in Los Angeles, California June 26, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Actor John Scheneider poses with co-stars (L-R) Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk and Annette O'Toole from the new WB television network action series "Smallvile" at the network's summer All-Star party at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, July 15, 2001. The series depicts the classic Superman character as a teenaged Clark Kent.
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ROSEMONT, IL - AUGUST 11: Actress Allison Mack attends Day 3 of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2013 held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on August 11, 2013 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
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Allison Mack during 'The Ant Bully' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
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392609 02: Actresses Karen Allen, right, and Allison Mack perform in a scene from the televised movie 'My Horrible Year!' (Photo Courtesy of Showtime/Getty Images)
Actress Allison Mack, known for her role in the TV series "Smallville", departs after being granted bail following being charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy in New York, U.S., April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Actress Allison Mack, known for her role in the TV series "Smallville", departs after being granted bail following being charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy in New York, U.S., April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Actress Allison Mack leaves U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York after a bail hearing, April 24, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Mack was charged last Friday with sex trafficking for her involvement with a self-help organization for women that forced members into sexual acts with their leader. The group, called Nxivm, was led by founder Keith Raniere, who was arrested in March on sex-trafficking charges. She was released on bail at $5 million. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Raniere, 57, has run a network of self-help groups based in Albany, New York called Nxivm over the past 20 years.

The women in his secret society, who numbered as many as 50, were forced to adhere to strict diet to stay thin, prosecutors have said.

Upon joining, they were required to provide information about family and friends, nude photographs and rights to their assets - so-called collateral used to threaten them if they left, prosecutors said.

The women were taught that the society would empower and strengthen them, according to prosecutors.

Mack helped force the women to have sex with Raniere and received financial and other benefits from Raniere in exchange, prosecutors said.

On its website, Nxivm calls itself "a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human."

In a letter on the site, Raniere said he was "deeply saddened" and denied "abusing, coercing or harming" anyone. (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York)

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