'Smallville' actress accused of sex trafficking out on $5 million bail

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress Allison Mack was released from jail on $5 million bail bond on Tuesday to await trial on charges of recruiting women to serve as sex slaves in what prosecutors called a secret society run by self-help guru Keith Raniere.

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A U.S. magistrate judge released Mack, known for her role in WB Television’s “Smallville” series, after her parents agreed to put the family’s Los Alamitos, California, home up as collateral and Mack, 35, agreed to live with her parents under house arrest.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Mack with sex trafficking and conspiracy for recruiting women into a programme within Raniere’s Albany, New York organisation Nxivm, representing it as a female mentorship group. They said that Mack, who has pleaded not guilty, played a major role in the group.

Prosecutors and Mack’s lawyers said in a court filing that the two sides are engaged in plea negotiations.

Raniere, 57, was arrested on sex trafficking charges last month, and is being held without bail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky of Brooklyn set terms that prohibit Mack from having any contact with Raniere, Nxivm or anyone associated with the organisation.

Authorities have accused Raniere of running a secret society within Nxivm (pronounced “Nexium”) where women were branded with his initials, put on extremely restrictive diets and forced to have sex with him.

Upon joining, members, who numbered as many as 50, were required to provide information about family and friends, nude photographs and rights to their assets, which were used to blackmail them into staying, according to prosecutors.

The women were taught that the society would empower and strengthen them, prosecutors said.

Nxivm on its website calls itself “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.”

Raniere said he was “deeply saddened” and denied “abusing, coercing or harming” anyone in a letter posted on the site.

Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Raniere, said earlier this month that he was “confident these allegations will be soundly disproven.”

Reporting By Brendan Pierson; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool