Boyle Quoted by The Guardian

On May 11, Professor Robin Boyle Laisure was quoted by The Guardian in its recent article, “‘Everything was Just Lies’: How Alleged Sex Cult NXIVM Deceived its Victims.” Boyle has been researching and writing about cults and the law for approximately 20 years and has been observing the proceedings in this significant trial involving defendant Keith Raniere in Brooklyn.


Boyle explained that by focusing on human trafficking statutes, and by arguing sexual or financial gain was central to NXIVM, prosecutors may have avoided the long-standing problem of establishing lack of consent and mind control.

When asked by Guardian reporter, Edward Helmore, whether there is something about self-help groups that make participants more vulnerable to cults, Boyle replied, “I don’t believe people joined the group saying ‘I want to look thinner,'” she said. “They joined because somebody said they had answers to life questions. In the process they became controlled about how to look and behave.

“That is what is so deceptive about cults. The engagement is not clear at the outset, people get sucked in, turn over collateral and then it’s too late to exit.”

Marc Vicente, a Hollywood film-maker who became a NXIVM member, testified last Thursday that he now realizes the group covered “a horrible evil.” Vicente described how members were asked to fill-out surveys asking questions that would lead to shame should the answers be made public.

According to Vicente and to prosecution’s witness known only by her first name, Sylvie, NXIVM used the personal information it gathered, along with revealing photographs, to coerce members into compliance. Sylvie testified that she was ordered to seduce Raniere.

The trial is scheduled to continue over the next several weeks.


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