NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Federal agents on Friday morning arrested the actress Allison Mack, best known for her role on the Superman-themed TV show Smallville, on sex-trafficking charges linked to a secretive group based in upstate New York.
Authorities have accused Mack of helping recruit women to be sex slaves for Keith Raniere, the leader of the cult-like group called Nxivm. A grand jury indictment was unsealed Friday in federal court in Brooklyn, where she appeared and pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered her held until at least a bail hearing scheduled for Monday.
The indictment also charged Raniere, who was arrested several weeks ago in Mexico. His lawyers have said their client is innocent.
"As alleged in the indictment, Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. "The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants' benefit."
For two decades, Raniere, 57, ran a series of self-help and executive coaching programs that catered to celebrities and other wealthy clients. Nxivm, based in Albany, has centers in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and South America and worked like a "pyramid scheme," according to federal authorities. Students paying thousands of dollars for the courses were encouraged to then sell the programs to other recruits so they could rise in the ranks.
Mack, 35, apparently considered Raniere to be an acting and music mentor, according to her biography on her own website. She and Raniere developed a curriculum at a private academy called The Source, where she serves as its "president" and one of its "top trainers," according to her bio.
"The Source provides a unique toolset and innovative exercises to increase one's mastery of the art of compassion, utilizing the disciplines of acting and expression," Mack's bio states.
But federal authorities allege that Raniere created a secret society within Nxivm exclusively for women. The society, called DOS, operated with masters, among them Mack, leading several levels of women slaves, federal authorities said.
The feds said that Mack was on the highest level of the pyramid, immediately below Raniere.
"Mack and other DOS masters recruited DOS slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses that the Nxivm curriculum taught were common in women," the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release. "As a pre-condition to joining DOS, women were required to provide 'collateral,' which included highly damaging information about friends and family members, nude photographs and/or rights to the recruit's assets."
Mack is accused of making at least two of her "slaves" have sex with Raniere, according to court documents. The two women, identified in the indictment only as "Jane Does 1 and 2," said they believed that their collateral would be released if they didn't go along with the sexual activity, federal authorities said.
A representative for the actress told Fox News, "I have no comment on the arrest."
Mack played Chloe, Clark Kent's best friend, on Smallville, which aired on the WB/CW for 10 seasons, ending in 2011. The series chronicled a young Kent coming to terms with his powers and developing into a hero.