Six years in the past, Allison Mack sat on a purple rug filming a section for her YouTube channel. Bubbly and earnest, she answered followers’ questions with delight.
The “most awesomest” reward she’s ever acquired? A colourful scarf knitted by a pal. “However actually it’s a hug made out of yarn,” Ms. Mack mentioned.
As charming and innocuous as she appeared, Ms. Mack was entranced by a company that promoted itself as a mentorship program however was getting ready to devolving right into a so-called intercourse cult. Ms. Mack herself would later be accused of recruiting girls as “slaves” for the group, Nxivm, branding them and demanding “collateral” of express photographs and movies.
In April, the 36-year-old actress pleaded responsible to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy and faces as much as 20 years in jail. She could also be known as to take the witness stand within the coming weeks within the trial of Nxivm’s chief, Keith Raniere.
4 different girls have additionally pleaded responsible, and trial testimony has begun to disclose particulars about Nxivm’s darkish interior workings.
Past the lurid particulars of the case is a narrative of a brilliant, beloved younger girl in Hollywood who longed for enlightenment, however as an alternative grew to become enthralled by the teachings of a twisted chief.
“I joined Nxivm first to seek out function,” she mentioned between sobs throughout final month’s plea listening to in Brooklyn federal court docket. “I used to be misplaced and I needed to discover a place, a group by which I might really feel comfy.”
She mentioned she was “really very sorry,” and took accountability for her actions.
Ms. Mack declined to be interviewed whereas the trial is continuing, however interviews with former Nxivm members and people who knew her earlier than she joined the organisation outlined her journey from Teen Alternative Award winner to convicted member of an obvious intercourse cult.
Ms. Mack was 18 when she was forged as Clark Kent’s sidekick, Chloe Sullivan, on “Smallville,” an addictive TV sequence about younger Superman, which ran for 10 seasons.
By then she had been performing for greater than a decade, showing in dozens of tv motion pictures and reveals, plus a task within the direct-to-video, “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.”
“She was simply this nice child who appeared pleased, mature for her age and really accountable,” mentioned her childhood supervisor, Diane Hardin.
As she moved into her teenagers, Ms. Mack was poised however lacked sophistication, needing assist together with her make-up and elegance, recalled her former agent, Judy Savage.
“In the event you noticed her, she was type of an ordinary-looking lady — wasn’t attractive or horny — however might make herself into something onscreen, and you’d be actually shocked at her work,” she mentioned.
After highschool, Ms. Mack moved from her household’s house in Los Alamitos, Calif., to North Hollywood and had a bunch of business buddies. She was notably near Christine Lakin of “Step by Step,” who recalled a woman who was “hilarious and up for something.”
However Ms. Lakin and others mentioned that Ms. Mack, the center of three kids, additionally had a contact of naïveté.
“The one factor I can consider is she so badly needed to hook up with one thing that she didn’t see the rational aspect of issues,” Ms. Lakin mentioned. “The individual that I knew means again when was very curious in regards to the world and relationships. I feel she was simply continually looking for one thing that was lacking in her life.”
On “Smallville,” Chloe was the clever-but-grating finest pal subsequent to the ethereal dream lady, Lana Lang, performed by Kristin Kreuk. Followers had been merciless when contrasting the 2 younger girls’s seems to be, and it was not misplaced on Ms. Mack, who was delicate to criticism.
Regardless of the general public pitting the 2 towards one another, Ms. Mack and Ms. Kreuk bonded shortly. It was Ms. Kreuk who introduced Ms. Mack to her first assembly of Jness, a girls’s group beneath the umbrella of Nxivm (pronounced Nex-ee-um), in 2006.
The weekend seminar was held in a Vancouver resort the place Ms. Mack appeared to bask within the consideration from Nancy Salzman, who co-founded Nxivm with Mr. Raniere. Ms. Salzman was instructing a workshop and spoke about how males are genetically polyamorous, mentioned Susan Dones, the proprietor of a Nxivm middle who was there that day, although she had begun to query Mr. Raniere’s motives.
By the top of the seminar, Ms. Mack had grown near Ms. Salzman and her daughter, Lauren, and was excited when Sara Bronfman, an inheritor to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, provided her a trip on her personal jet to fulfill Mr. Raniere in Albany.
Ms. Dones, who left the group in 2009, recalled pondering, “Oh my god, they’ve gotten their claws into her.”
Nxivm programs had been mentioned to assist eradicate psychological and emotional limitations, and Ms. Mack noticed them as a option to improve her relationships and performing talents, mentioned Barbara Bouchey, a former girlfriend of Mr. Raniere’s who served on Nxivm’s government board earlier than leaving in 2009.
She was additionally keen to assist and shortly hosted, together with Ms. Kreuk, a Nxivm a cappella live performance, mentioned Frank Parlato, a former publicist for the group. Mr. Parlato, who now runs a number of web sites dedicated to exposing Nxivm’s underbelly, was struck by Ms. Mack’s near-religious fervor for the group.
Ms. Mack tended to throw herself wholeheartedly into experiences, a behavior she mentioned she developed at a younger age when she watched her mom battle and beat most cancers.
“I’m insatiable. Grasping, in a means. I stay with voracity and depth … voracitensity,” she wrote on her now defunct web site.
By 2007, she was insisting that anybody she employed enroll in Nxivm lessons, wanting to verify her crew had the identical moral basis. She additionally turned more and more inward, obsessing over defects in her character, mentioned a girl who labored for Ms. Mack for eight years who requested to not be named for concern of being contacted by present Nxivm members.
“One of many insidious issues that the cult does is it breaks everybody down the place you’re solely centered in your flaws,” mentioned the worker, who left Nxivm round 2013.
Ms. Mack additionally started to lose buddies.
Amongst them was Frank Martorana, a confidant for years.
“She simply went from being an incredible, fantastic pal to being somebody who was brainwashed, and I didn’t know get her again,” Mr. Martorana mentioned.
The friendship deteriorated when Ms. Mack invited him to a Nxivm recruiting occasion at a Los Angeles mansion overlooking the ocean.
“It was actually essentially the most stress I’ve ever felt in my life,” Mr. Martorana mentioned. “I might see how she might get misplaced in that present.”
After “Smallville” resulted in 2011, Ms. Mack moved to Brooklyn the place she packed her condominium with work and books and listened to jazz. She yearned to reinvent herself.
She purchased a house in Clifton Park, N.Y., a suburban upstate city the place many Nxivm members had flocked, together with Mr. Raniere, who was known as “Vanguard.” Members took walks across the neighborhood and met up for late-night volleyball matches. Ms. Mack joined their a cappella group, Merely Human.
Her social media pages grew to become collages of nature photographs and inspirational quotes, and he or she reached out to high-profile potential members on Twitter, together with the actress Emma Watson and the singer Kelly Clarkson.
Round 2013, Ms. Kreuk left Nxivm and maintained solely “minimal contact” with these nonetheless concerned, in response to an announcement she posted final 12 months on Twitter. Her supervisor didn’t reply to requests for remark.
However Ms. Mack ventured even deeper into the organisation’s philosophies. In 2014, she was serving to to start out a media web site for Nxivm that promised to strip information of its spin.
A 12 months later, prosecutors mentioned, a secret society fashioned inside Nxivm known as D.O.S. — an acronym for a Latin phrase which means “Lord/Grasp of the Obedient Feminine Companions” — the place girls had been “slaves” overseen by “masters” and ordered to have sexual relations with Mr. Raniere.
Ms. Mack is alleged by prosecutors to have focused weak girls beneath the guise of feminine empowerment, ravenous them till they match Mr. Raniere’s sexual excellent and threatening them with the discharge of collected “collateral.”
Though Ms. Mack married Nicki Clyne, a fellow Nxivm member and actress who appeared in “Battlestar Galactica,” in 2017, she seemed to be infatuated and romantically concerned with Mr. Raniere, former members of the group mentioned.
However Mr. Raniere, who’s on trial on expenses together with intercourse trafficking and coercing an underage lady to have interaction in sexually express conduct, now stands alone.
When Ms. Mack appeared in court docket in April to plead responsible, she wore a camel-colored mock turtleneck and drained eyes.
Her small voice wobbled as she spoke. She apologised. She wept.
“I believed that Keith Raniere’s intentions had been to assist folks, and that my adherence to his system of beliefs would assist empower others and assist them,” she mentioned. “I used to be fallacious.”
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