Smallville actress Allison Mack — accused by federal authorities of luring women into a controversial self-help group that has been described by at least one former member as a “cult” — can be seen in recently resurfaced video footage extolling the virtues of Jness, which she describes as a “women’s empowerment group.”
The YouTube clip was posted in 2013. In it, Mack answers questions from her fans, one of which is about her association with Jness, which its website describes as “a women’s movement for the modern world” that is “changing the lives of women, one friendship at a time.”
The website states that Jness operates “in proud partnership with Nxivm,” the group to which Mack has been charged in connection by authorities with sex trafficking and related crimes.
“Working for Jness is the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done,” Mack says in the video. “It’s the most challenging because it consists of working with a group of people who are interdependent. No one is ever punished or told that they’re wrong or they’re bad.”
She adds that “working for Jness is the most purposeful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done. Watching the women who are in Jness completely transform and evolve in a way that’s so pure — it’s such a privilege.
“Seeing people’s life paths completely turn 180 degrees when in one moment they felt like this was all they had and this was all that they could do, and then they come through Jness and our community and it’s like a whole ‘nother life is born from their new experience of themselves.”
Mack continues talking about Jness, and says it has helped women persevere through some of the worst times in their lives.
“Working for Jness is grounding and satisfying and humbling and wonderful,” Mack says.
On Tuesday, Mack, 35, was escorted away from a Brooklyn, New York, federal court after posting a $5 million bond for her release. A condition of her bond requires she remain under house arrest at her parents’ home when she returns to California.
She has also been barred from having any contact with anyone currently or formerly affiliated with Nxivm.
Both are accused of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy for their alleged roles in running a secretive sub-group within Nxivm involving “masters” and “slaves.”
Both have pleaded not guilty and face 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Mack appeared for 10 years as Chloe Sullivan on Smallville. Her next court date, a status conference on her case, is set for May 3.
The Albany Times Union and Fox News have both reported Jness is connected to Nxivm, although no evidence has surfaced indicating that Jness engaged in any of the practices that authorities have criticized as being part of Nxivm’s business model.
A Department of Justice spokesman could not confirm a link between Jness and Nxivm.
Online records show that the Jness website is registered to Karen Unterriener, who works at Executive Success Programs, which was founded by Raniere.
The criminal complaint against Raniere — who authorities say was known as “Vanguard” to his followers — alleges that he encouraged the formation of a secretive subgroup within Nxivm called “Dominus Obsequious Sororium,” (DOS) in which women were coerced into serving as sex slaves to their male masters.
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Prosecutors allege that in her role in the DOS group, Mack made new recruits provide “collateral” — defined by prosecutors as “highly-damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit’s assets.”
The collateral, prosecutors allege, gave Mack leverage with which to blackmail slaves if they told people of DOS’ existence or tried to leave the group.
Prosecutors allege the women were branded with Raniere’s initials, as he “alone forms the top of the pyramid as the highest master.”
Prosecutors claim that during ceremonies in which her slaves were branded, Mack “placed her hands on the slaves’ chests and told them to ‘feel the pain’ and to ‘think of [their] master,’ as the slaves cried with pain.”
But Raniere, in an undated letter posted online, wrote “the sorority,” DOS, “is not part of NXIVM” and clarifies “that I am not associated with the group.”
On her now disabled website, Mack had written a blog about Jness, saying it was “a collective inspiring a community of strong, authentically empowered women to own themselves in a way that has never been seen or understood before.”