Woman implicated in sex slave case quietly pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman implicated in the sex-trafficking case against an upstate New York self-help group has quietly pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Lauren Salzman entered the plea this week at a hearing that wasn't on the court calendar. Afterward, a judge agreed to seal a transcript until parts of it could be blacked out.

The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on Friday about how the plea was handled.

Salzman was one of the four co-defendants of Keith Raniere, the leader of the group called NXIVM (NEHK'-see-uhm), which has been compared to a cult. He has denied charges he had sex slaves who were branded with his initials.

Prosecutors this month added charges accusing Raniere of exploiting teenage girls. That sparked speculation his co-defendants might agree to cooperate against him.

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Defendants in NXIVM sex cult case
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Defendants in NXIVM sex cult case
Television actress Allison Mack leaves federal court in New York, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Court papers say a trust funded by Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress Clare Bronfman is bankrolling the defense for her co-defendants in the sex-trafficking prosecution. They include the leader of the secretive upstate New York group NXIVM, Keith Raniere, and Mack. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that followers of the group were coerced into becoming sex slaves who were branded with Raniere's initials. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Keith Raniere was charged last week with exploiting a child and possessing child pornography, and had previously pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of operating a secret society within his NXIVM group that forced women "slaves" to have unwanted sex with him and branded them with his initials.
Clare Bronfman leaves Brooklyn federal court in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Court papers say a trust largely funded by Seagram's liquor fortune heiress Bronfman is bankrolling the defense for her co-defendants in a sex-trafficking case. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Nancy Salzman arrives at Brooklyn federal court, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in New York. Salzman, a co-founder of NXIVM, an embattled upstate New York self-help organization, is expected to plead guilty in a case featuring sensational claims that some followers became branded sex slaves. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Lauren Salzman leaves Brooklyn federal court in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Salzman is among defendants from the self-help group NXIVM, co-founded my her mother Nancy Salzman, charged with coercing women to be a part of a secret sub-group where they were expected to act as "slaves" and engage in sex acts. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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