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Lawyer says leader of secretive group innocent

An attorney for the leader of a secretive group accused of coercing female followers into having sex and getting branded with his initials says he's innocent.

Posted: Apr. 14, 2018 8:03 AM

An attorney for the leader of a secretive group accused of coercing female followers into having sex and getting branded with his initials says he's innocent.

Attorney Marc Agnifilo appeared in a New York federal court Friday with his client Keith Raniere, who was arrested in Mexico weeks ago and has been ordered to remain behind bars.

Federal authorities in March raided an upstate New York residence connected to Raniere's group, called NXIVM (NEX'-ee-um). The cult-like organization also ran programs in Mexico.

The lawyer says the facts will show Raniere did not compel or pressure anyone to do anything. He says everyone was acting in accordance with his or her free will at every instant.

Raniere was brought to the United States from Mexico in late March to face charges of sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy. He did not enter a plea.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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