Category Archives: sex trafficking

NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading

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Abandonment

Abandoned teddy bear, Author Ryan Hodnett (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Brittany Gosney, a 29 y.o. Ohio woman charged with murdering her 6 y.o. son James Hutchinson, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity [1]. 

In a confession now being contested, Gosney alleged that her boyfriend, James Hamilton, urged her to abandon all three of her children.  She proceeded to do this, leaving the children in a parking lot at Rush Run Wildlife Area.  The youngest grabbed the car door as Gosney gunned the engine, and was apparently dragged. 

Gosney turned the vehicle around to check on the boy, and found he was dead.  She then loaded the body and her two living children (7 y.o. and 9 y.o.) back into the car, and returned home.  Gosney and Hamilton later tossed the little boy’s remains into the Ohio River, and attempted to pass his absence off as a disappearance.

Abandonment

Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interest in and legal rights over one’s children in an illegal manner, the intention being never to resume guardianship [2A].  As in the Gosney case, this is often done in such a reckless way that the children’s welfare and their very lives are placed at risk.

The term “abandonment” is generally used to describe physical abandonment of a child.  It can, also, however, include severe neglect and emotional abandonment, as when parents fail to provide financial and/or emotional support to  minor children for a prolonged period of time.

Apart from the damage severe neglect can cause, this particular form of abandonment may expose a child to sexual abuse by other adults with whom the child then comes into contact.  It is not unheard of for addicted parents to trade their young children to sex traffickers in exchange for drugs. Continue reading

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Forbidden Music

Afghan women, Author Eric Draper (PD as federal work product)

Many fear the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will place in jeopardy the advances girls and women have made there in the past 20 years [1].

If the Taliban resumes control of the country (as now seems inevitable), women are likely again to be penalized for infractions such as failure to wear a burka, leaving home unaccompanied by a male, and adultery [2].  Even music will again be forbidden, since the Prophet Muhammad is thought by some to have criticized the use of musical instruments [3].

Punishments have, in the past, ranged from beating or flogging, by religious police, to death by stoning [4].

Radical Islam v. Christianity

The Taliban argues that the harsh restrictions placed on women are meant to revere and protect them.  Taliban leaders have, however, been known to engage in human trafficking, selling women into slavery and forced prostitution [5].

The contrast between Radical Islam and Christianity could not be more clear.

When Christ was confronted with a woman caught in adultery, He defended her against her accusers, then instructed her to go and sin no more (John 8: 3-11).

He…said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first’ ” (John 8: 7).

[1]  CNBC, “US withdrawal of troops puts Afghan women’s education in peril” by Richard Engel, 5/3/21, https://www.cnbc.com/video/2021/05/03/u-s-withdrawal-of-troops-put-womens-education-in-peril.html.

[2]  Wikipedia, “Women in Afghanistan”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Afghanistan.

[3]  Wikipedia, “Islamic music”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_music.

[4]  Radio Free Europe Radio Library, “Afghan Rights Group Investigating Video of Woman Being Stoned to Death” by Frud Bezhan, 2/3/20, https://www.rferl.org/a/afghan-rights-group-investigates-video-of-woman-being-stoned-to-death/30414665.html.

[5]  Time Magazine, “Lifting the Veil on Taliban Sex Slavery” by , http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,201892,00.html.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Babies for Sale

Baby For Sale – Gag-Signs.com

Image courtesy of Gag-Signs.com.

German police earlier this year arrested a Bulgarian couple believed to trade in infants. 

The 58 y.o. man and his 51 y.o. wife whose names were not disclosed are thought to belong to a criminal ring that engages in the sale of infants.  At least eight women in an advanced stage of pregnancy but willing to hand over their newborns for cash were transported from Bulgaria to Greece for that purpose [1][2].

Human trafficking is an ugly business under any circumstances.  When there are children involved, it takes on a whole new dimension.  But infants would not be offered for sale, if there were not a market for them.

Many couples anxious for a child are willing to pursue adoption by any means, if they can secure an infant.  Even more sinister are the countless pedophiles and pornographers salivating to get their hands on a child – no questions asked.

Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of older children await legal adoption.

How much is a human life worth?  Clearly, we have no concept, since we treat children like commodities in this consumer culture of ours.  Can we quantify the value of a child?   Evidently, older children have depreciated in value as compared with infants.

In God’s view, all children are priceless – even those being discarded and sold.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1: 5).

[1]  CNN,  “German police arrest couple suspected of trading newborn babies” by Claudia Otto and Stephanie Halasz, 5/3/21, https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/03/europe/germany-newborn-trading-arrests-intl-grm/index.html.

[2]  We do not know the dire circumstances of these women, or the promises they may have been made that their children would be placed in good homes.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Alternative Girls

Singer Melanie Martinez, Author DeShaun Craddock, Original Source flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Definition: Alternative Girls – Girls with colored hair, tattoos and piercings [Surgical decoration of the body, esp. the ears, nostrils, eyebrows and navel; sometimes the tongue, nipples, or genitalia.  Considered attractive by some, disgusting by others].

They usually started out as a scene [good, amazing, fun, etc.], punk or goth chick in High School.

Melanie Martinez is an alternative girl singer.

– Urban Dictionary

There is a cultural phenomenon these days known as the “alternative” girl.  Alternative girls favor a lifestyle different from the norm [1].  They have a fashion sense, musical tastes, and opinions different from those of the population in general.

Whatever the origin of this phenomenon, it closely parallels the experience of many child abuse victims.

Desperate for love, we offer up to the world the worst possible aspects of ourselves in the forlorn hope of acceptance and redemption. Continue reading

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Along Came a Spider – Trafficking at an Elite Eastern College

Platycryptus undatus, jumping spider, found in Virginia, Author Kevincollins123 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Lawrence Ray a/k/a Lawrence Grecco and Isabelle Pollok have been charged in a sex trafficking and money laundering scheme involving Sarah Lawrence College students [1][2][3].  Amazingly enough, Ray was the parent of a student at the exclusive institution.  Pollok was a student there at the time.

Apparently, Ray presented himself as an advisor and confidante to his daughter’s classmates, extorting them after having gained their confidence.  Pollok allegedly abetted the scheme.  Both have pleaded not guilty.

A Father Figure

Against school policy, Ray moved into Sarah Lawrence’s townhouse style, on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates during their sophomore year in late 2010.  No one, however, reported him to authorities.  According to the indictment, he then began “therapy” sessions with the roommates during which he assumed the role of a father figurre.

Blackmail, Extortion, and Prostitution

Over the course of a decade, Ray and Pollok are alleged to have manipulated students into providing explicit photos, embarrassing personal information, and false confessions.

Five students were then blackmailed, and pressured to perform manual labor.  At least one is said to have been forced into prostitution, with Ray collecting over $500,000 from her over the course of 4 years.  Physical abuse is, also, alleged. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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Time and the Value of Women

Models walk the runway during Miami Fashion Week 2019, Author Fashion photographer James Santiago (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth.  We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines.  Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women.  Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death.  If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time.  The race is rigged.  Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account.  Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries.  We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so.  Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age.  It was never linked to time, in the first place.  Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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Fighting Back – Hunting Child Predators

Marisol Nichols at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, Author Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The TV series Law and Order:  Special Victims Unit and Riverdale could hardly be more different.  The first is a gritty crime drama.  The second is a teen melodrama based on the Archie Comics.

The two, however, have something in common:  a remarkable actress who takes part in real life FBI and other police “sting” operations targeting child predators [1].

Employing her acting skills, Marisol Nichols collaborates with law enforcement – sometimes in the role of a child, sometimes in the role of a distraught parent – to combat sex trafficking.  Texts and phone calls lure child molesters to motel rooms, where they can be arrested.

Nichols was, herself, sexually assaulted at 11 years of age.

The actress has since established a non-profit called Foundation for a Slavery Free World https://www.slaveryfreeworld.org.  Her non-profit produces Hollywood events to raise awareness of sex trafficking, and recognizes groups and individuals for their work in this field.

For her own work, Marisol Nichols received the President’s Distinguished Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov. 28: 1).

[1]  E!, “Riverdale Star Marisol Nichols’ Story of Hunting Child Predators Is Being Turned Into a TV Show” by Lauren Piester, 8/31/20, https://www.eonline.com/news/1183800/riverdale-star-marisol-nichols-story-of-hunting-child-predators-is-being-turned-into-a-tv-show.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Child Sex Trafficking Online

Graphic for child sex trafficking in the United States, Author Ebrittania (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Federal authorities have seized and taken down the website CityXGuide.com and its affiliates for advertising illicit sexual services [1].  CityXGuide.com had taken over from the now defunct 1Backpage.com as the internet’s primary source for such ads.

Minors are identified among the victims of CityXGuide.com.

The charges against Wilhan Martono, the owner and operator of CityXGuide.com and its affiliates (Backpage.co, CAPleasures.com, BodyRubShop.com, and others), include money laundering, facilitating prostitution, and the reckless disregard of sex trafficking. Continue reading

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