The doctor who branded women with Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere’s initial defended the practice in a new television interview — claiming the women “wanted” the marks and were not “harmed.”
Speaking to NBC “Dateline,” Dr. Danielle Roberts said she was not acting in her capacity as a physician when she branded members of a secret master-slave group inside Nxivm, known as DOS.
“They had no idea who the branding technician was going to be, you know? There was no patient-physician relationship,” Roberts said in a clip of the interview, which will air in full Friday night.
She insisted that she never believed she was causing anyone “harm” by cauterizing their skin.
“I think pain and harm are two different things. You know, I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this,” Roberts said.
“These women wanted this, they asked for this. You know, I mean and I understand now that narrative has changed and they’re saying other things,” she added.
She also claimed the women “were laughing” at the time.
“They said they wanted it. They were laughing,” she said.
Members of DOS said at Raniere’s 2019 trial in Brooklyn federal court that they handed over damaging “collateral” to join the group, which they feared would be released.
They were then branded in their public region with an insignia that looked like the letters K and R backwards during a nude ceremony — though several have said they didn’t realize that’s what the design was until they received it.
Jurors at the trial heard audio recordings of Raniere speaking with his No. 2, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, saying the ceremonies should resemble human sacrifice rituals.
“Do you think the person who’s being branded should be held to the table, almost like a sacrifice?” Raniere asked Mack in the recording, adding that he thinks the slaves should be completely nude. “That’s a feeling of submission.”
“Laying on the back, legs spread straight, held to the table. Hands above the head, probably held, almost like sacrificial,” he added.
Former DOS slave-master Lauren Salzman described the branding as “the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Roberts has not been charged with any crimes. But her medical license is under review because of her involvement in Nxivm.
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October after being convicted on charges that included racketeering and sex trafficking.