Smallville star Allison Mack's court case involving the NXIVM cult has hit another snag.
According to the New York Post, a Brooklyn federal judge has found some issues with a defense fund for those charged in the case. Prosecutors claim that the fund was set up by Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman as part of an effort they claim is designed to keep members of the alleged cult in line by providing high-paid defense attorneys.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis had ruled in an initial hearing last month that documentation related to all parties contributing to the fund -- which is set up as an irrevocable trust -- must be turned over to the court. On Wednesday, he ordered that all defendants will now have to appear in court "to address issues [the court] has identified in its review of the Trust's indenture and the declarations that Defendants submitted."
Bronfman herself is among those charged with racketeering conspiracy as well as conspiracy to commit identity theft in connection to NXIVM for her alleged aiding of leader Keith Raniere. Mack has also been charged with racketeering conspiracy as well as forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. For those charges she faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted in addition to a maximum of 15 years for identity theft conspiracy charges. All of that is in addition to the mandatory minimum 15 years up to life imprisonment Mack faces on sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges.
In fall of 2017, news surfaced that Mack was involved with the group, an organization that has been described by former members as a cult. Then, in April 2018, Mack was officially arrested in connection with the case involving NXIVM leader Raniere who himself had been arrested in Mexico in March. Both Mack and Raniere have pled not guilty to the original charges. Raniere was denied bail in June.
Regarding the forced labor charges against Mack, lawyers for the actress have filed papers in court citing a 2009 case in which the Church of Scientology was unsuccessfully sued by a couple also claiming forced labor, equating the evidence in that case to be similar in function to the so-called "collateral" against NXIVM members that prosecutors allege was leveraged against victims.
“The court did not find that plaintiffs were compelled to remain in the organization even though, if they chose to leave, they would be ‘excommunicated’ from their friends and family and labeled a ‘dissenter,’” Mack’s lawyers said. “The threat of reputational damage and isolation from loved ones therefore did not qualify as serious harm.”
The trial had originally been slated for March 18 but was moved off to April 29 after multiple individuals charged claimed that they do not want to stand trial with Raniere and Mack.