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tv   Nightline  ABC  April 12, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PDT

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this is "nightline." tonight, inside nxivm. what we're now learning about the mysterious organization whose leader is accused of sex trafficking and forced labor. what a former member tells us about the private photos even branding within a secret society. >> let us in blindfolded, buck-naked. no clothes. and the ex-smallville star pleading guilty. and elizabeth holmes and her once powerful company to be portrayed by snl star kate
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mckinnon, based on the podcast, holmes turning her black turtleneck in for tee shirt and baseball cap for this new inside and noted farewell, saying good bye to nipsey hussle, gunned down at 33. thousands celebrating the life of the rapper and activist. but first, here are the "nightline" five. and numbe a little time wand nowfavorite people goeat denny's,y. $6.99 goes a long way too.
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good evening, and thank you for joining us. we begin here tonight with the new details emerging about a mysterious organization now in the glare of the spotlight. its loadeader accused of sex trafficking and other charges, going inside the secret group known as nxivm tonight and what former members are now revealing. for hollywood actress allison mack, this was judgment day. >> any comment? >> how do you think you were misguided by raniere? >> reporter: once a star on the show "smallville." >> that explains the theory. >> reporter: on monday, the 36-year-old pled guilty two
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counts of racketeering, which included forced labor. she faces up to 40 years in prison. >> she broke down in tears, forcing the judge to ask if she needed a second to compose herself. >> reporter: against a mysterious self-help group called nxivm. many of its members charged with numerous crimes, including conspiracy to commit forced labor, sex trafficking. >> i soon realized think were not nice people. >> the fact that allison mack pled guilty to so few charges and was facing so many certainly indicates that she's likely cooperating with prosecutors. >> reporter: on the surface, nxivm, also known as executive success programs, described itself as a self-help group. >> it's a program that is designed for people to identify what it is they want to do in their lives and how they can do it the best way possible.
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>> reporter: allison mack was attracted to the goals of the group. hear s here she is appearing in a video testimony. >> i had something on the surface that seemed like a pretty good life. >> reporter: the group's leader was this man, keith raniere. members referred to him as vanguard. >> so one would say authenticity is being as you are. >> reporter: raniere's words literally moved mack to tears. >> i don't know why, that makes me want to cry. it's beautiful. >> but why, why do you think that's -- >> so emotional for me? >> yes. >> i don't nknow, i think it's something that i, i want it, authenticity. >> reporter: sara edmondson was a former member of nxivm. she told my former colleague, elizabeth vargas that mack was a favorite of the management. >> she had a huge following, i
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think they thought this would be another big fish to catch. >> his movement was to recruit women for dos. and during her statement on monday, she admitted to recruiting women to this group and under the guise it was female empowerment. >> reporter: sara edmondson says she fell for that ploy. one night in march of 2017 she says she and four other women were summoned to a house outside of albany, new york. they willingly participated in a strange initiation ritual, led by a woman who told everyone to take off their clothes and put on a blindfold. >> led us in blindfolded, and sat us in a semi-circle, buck-naked. no clothes on a sheepskin rug. >> reporter: edmondson told authorities she thought they were going to get tattoos. instead she says they found out they were all going to be bra branded. >> what was that like? >> it was worse than childbirth.
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imagine a hot laser graged across your flesh without painkiller for 30 minutes. keith's initials on one side and am for allison mack but i didn't sigh that at the time. >> reporter: this shocking scene is the last last last last lastl expected to show up. she's a wife and mother and has a successful career. but her life changed after she crossed paths with the so-called self-help group and its charismatic leader raniere. >> i'm an interesting person, a controversial person. but most importantly, i'm an unconventional person. >> i was told that he was one of the smartest men in the world and just an incredible man. >> reporter: at the heart of nxivm training was something called intensive, which former members describe as group therapy. it ran as long as 14 hours a day
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and four up to 16 days. edmondson says she attended her first one in 2005. the price tag over $2,000. >> i left my five-day, my initial training as if a veil had been lifted, and i could see things more clearly in my life. >> reporter: according to former members, nxivm even had its own lingo and it involved practices such as chanting. a special handshake, even bowing. >> to vanguard. >> thank you, vanguard. >> reporter: former members like mark vin sente say anyone unwilling to go along with the rituals was scorned. >> if you question raniere, [ bleep ]. how dare you, don't you realize you owe everything to him? >> reporter: sara says it went further. women were taught to be subservient to men and he practiced what he preached by having what amounts to a harem
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of women. >> d >> it was like having a normal boyfriend, except you didn't know when you'd see him next. he'd go out with another woman. >> reporter: they'd travel all over the world to celebrate his birthday, an annual celebration known as vanguard week. >> wishing vanguard a happy birthday. >> i loved v-week. i missed my best friend's wedding. it makes me emotional. i missed her wedding. >> reporter: edmondson was in the group for 12 years, rising through the ranks. she became close to lauren salsman. she was edmundson's maid of honor. ? she's like my therapist and also above me. >> reporter: in march of 2017, after their years together in nxivm, edmondson says salsman approached her about a new and mysterious opportunity. >> life changing but top secret. >> reporter: but edmundson
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claims salsman demanded highly-compromising collateral first. in response she and others ended up providing nude photos of themselves. >> i did it because i trusted her. >> reporter: only then did she gain entry. >> the first step is making a vow of obedience to her as her being the master and me being the slave. >> slave? did you object? >> i objected every stage of the way. and she said it's a like guru, disciple. the women on the table screamed out in pain, twisted and turned and yelled. and the woman i was with, holding her legs down, we looked at each other and wept. >> why didn't you lit go and run out of there and run out naked. >> it didn't seem like a choice at the time. >> reporter: can you stand up and explain where the brand is?
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>> it's right here under my underwear line. >> reporter: edmundson believes raniere should be held accountable because she saw a text come in as she held lauren's phone filming the br d branding. >> he said how is it going. >> reporter: he was also being investigated for extortion, wire fraud and identity theft among other possible crimes. and then, in march of 2018. >> hey! >> reporter: his empire came tumbling down when he was busted by the federales in mex quo. his hideout was a $10,000 a week villa in puerto vallarta shared with the women. this video was shot and shared by followers and leaked online. >> he was brought back to new york to face federal charges, including sex trafficking. the next month, allison mack was
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arrested, too. >> were you involved in a sex cult? >> reporter: and a few months later, more arrests followed, including that of lauren salsman, the woman whom sara says recruited her into that secret group. she pled guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. >> if you're keith raniere, you've got to be nervous about the fact that these other people are pleading guilty. we don't know for certain that they're cooperating. but that would be really bad news for keith raniere. >> reporter: raniere is currently behind bars. he has pled not guilty to all of the charges against him. raniere's criminal trial is set to start next month. coming up next, the snl star taking on a silicon valley ceo's rise and very big fall. yap yap yap
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and we're back now with a billionaire ceo's fall from grace, getting the star treatment. snl's kate mckinnon as theranos's failed ceo elizabeth holmes. here's my "nightline" co-anchor, juju chang. >> reporter: from hillary clinton to justin bieber to former attorney general jeff sessions. snl's case mckinnon has the ability to transform seamlessly. >> i made a steal, this is nothing. >> reporter: her latest role, a departure from her usual comedic
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chops to a very real supporty. >> she dropped out of stanford at 19 to create theranos. >> elizabeth holmes and another executive await a criminal trial. >> reporter: mckinnon is slated to star as elizabeth holmes, the founder of the revolutionary blood testing company theranos. >> we will change our lives and our world. >> here it is. the next steve jobs. >> we've made it possible to run comprehensive laboratory tests from a tiny sample. >> reporter: it's set to unfold in a hulu series based on "the dropout". chronicling holmes' rise and fall from grace. she's facing up to decades in prison for alleged fraud if convicted. but she seems to be unfazed by it all. seen here in a video captured by
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"inside edition", seemingly living it up with her new fiance, billy evans, and ditching that signature black turtle neck for white tee shirt and baseball cap. the two were at burning man. >> a lot of people think it was heartless that you were partying at burning man. >> reporter: a reference to this instagram selfie that her fiance posted at the festival. she has become a cultural phenomenon. >> magazine cover after magazine cover. blog post. >> reporter: from a best-selling book "bad blood", to documentaries, including the one on abc. this was not how a young billionaire thought her empire would end. her story as complex as it is fascinating. black turtle necks. blue eyes. smoky voice. elizabeth holmes was a tech super nova who said she had an amazing invention.
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>> making it possible to do any lab test from a tiny drop of blood from a finger. >> oh, my god, this is a rocket ship. >> reporter: reported to be the youngest female self-made billionaire. >> the golden girl of silicon valley. >> part of the new time 100 list just out. >> reporter: only problem? it didn't work. >> this is a product that didn't work. >> did ms. holmes know theranos could not do all those tests? >> she, yeah, she knew. >> reporter: by 2017, holmes, once the lavishly-praised cover girl found herself under the harsh glare of a very different kind of spot light. >> please raise your right hand. >> reporter: forced to answer to the securities and exchange commission as she was investigated for an elaborate, years-long fraud. >> do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? >> i do. >> reporter: suddenly, the woman who seemed to always have all the answers. >> we are the only lab company that is actually really focussed
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on leading with transparency. >> reporter: now had none. >> >> i don't know specifically. i'm not sure. i don't know exactly. >> reporter: claiming ignorance more than 660 times. >> i would be speculating. i just don't know. >> reporter: elizabeth holmes, once valued at $4.5 billion now worth virtually nothing. >> she was able to put the magic spell on people with her big blue eyes and her deep voice. she would have been the next steve jobs. >> reporter: she settled with the sec with no admission of wrong doing but now faces charges from the department of justice. she has pleaded not guilty to all charges. as holmes awaits a criminal trial, this fascination with this saga will live on in the upcoming portrayal by mckinnon the limited series will be produced by fox search light which is owned by our parent company, disney. the actor joins a pantheon of
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comedians who have transitioned from humorous roles to dramatic roles. like melissa mccarthy going from brides maid. >> i need you to get $10,000. >> reporter: to her oscar-nominated role in "can you ever forgive me" and steve carell. mckinnon, a proven master of impersonation should have no trouble making the move. >> i am so incredibly humbled. >> reporter: and nailing that infamous baritone. >> our thanks to juju. when we come back the city of angels remembers its fallen star who never forgot them.
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i've slain your dreaded dragon. for saving the kingdom what doth thou desire? my lord? hey good knight. where are you going? ♪ ♪ climbing up on solsbury hill ♪ grab your things, salutations. coffee that is a cup above is always worth the quest. nespresso. tis all i desire. did thou bring enough for the whole kingdom? george: nespresso, what else? ♪
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and finally here tonight, los angeles remembering the rapper, nipsey hussle. ♪ i've longed for you since i was born ♪ ♪ >> stevie wonder performing "rocket love" today at services, said to be one of nipsey hussle's favorites. he was nominated not only for his sound but his activism and entrepreneurship, shot to death on the last day of march. today's massive funeral procession traveli past the singer's marathon clothing store, the scene of that crime. former president obama praising the singer in writing for his quote legacy worthy of celebration. ♪ would you know my name ♪ if i saw you in heaven ♪ would it be the same
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♪ if i saw you in hea h ♪ i must be strong ♪ and carry on ♪ cause i know i don't't't here in heaven ♪ >> we want to thank you for watching "nightline" tonight, and goodnight. while shopping at sears, you need to place yourself in the moment. you need confidence in the appliances you select to build the home and life you love. our products and services bring moments like this to every family. op top-brand appliances including kenmore at sears.
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