NXIVM's website looks like that of any other company. Its founder, Keith Raniere, poses with a smile, front and center.
But underneath it all, a new complaint possibly reveals a dark world -- and the founder was arrested in Mexico to face a court appearance Tuesday in Texas.
Raniere founded Executive Success Programs in 1998. According to its website, the company seeks to advance ethics and humanity on an individual global scale. In 2003, an umbrella company, NXIVM Corporation, was born.
The company, located in Colonie, calls itself a community guided by humanitarian principles. According to a newly unsealed federal complaint, though, Raniere, also known as "the Vanguard," created a secret society in 2015 called DOS, which the complaint says translates to master of the obedient female companions.
Slaves were recruited, required to provide collateral that includes highly damaging information about family, nude photographs, and a recruit’s assets. This collateral information could be released if they told anyone about the secret group.
The complaint goes on to say slaves were branded on their pelvic areas with a symbol that included Raniere’s initials.
The Department of Justice says most slaves were recruited within NXIVM's ranks and recruited their own slaves, forming a pyramid in which Raniere stood at the top, alone.
A response to these allegations is already on the NXIVM website. In a letter to his members, Raniere says the picture being painted in the media is "not how I know our community and friends to be nor how I experience it myself." He calls the allegations disturbing and says non-violence is an important NXIVM value.
Raniere was arrested in Mexico, where the company has an operating center, and sent back to Texas on Monday. Raniere is set for an initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas.