Every good cult leader and their loyal lieutenants need a solid cover story. It’s preferable if they believe the nonsense themselves as their earnestness of cause aids in the recruitment of newbies. For Allison Mack, the former Smallville actress turned chief assistant to Keith Raniere and his Nxivm ladies-only member cult, the front was an empowering circle of women coming together to boost each other up in confidence, self-worth, and meaning. Like an EST class from the 80’s, but with torture and humiliation and rape. So not all that much different.

Following her arrest, and Raniere’s arrest a few weeks earlier, each on charges of keeping cult members against their will, various levels of abuse and sexual exploitation, and simply being super annoying people, an interview with Mack in the New York Times magazine where prior to arrest, she explains the purpose of the ladies support group she helped operate:

“[It’s about] women coming together and pledging to one another a full-time commitment to become our most powerful and embodied selves by pushing on our greatest fears, by exposing our greatest vulnerabilities, by knowing that we would stand with each other no matter what, by holding our word, by overcoming pain.”

Mack’s high-minded words in sharp contrast to the women who escaped the cult who explain in detail about being forced to be underfed and skinny as that’s how Raniere preferred his women, bound and often sexually assaulted, made to work as slaves on menial jobs, and forced to submit humiliating blackmail worthy material to the cult to show their commitment to staying in. The women were also branded on their pubic areas with the initials of Raniere and Mack intertwined. Mack explain the branding as a fun sorority type exercise to all get matching tattoos. You know how girls in sororities will often all get the initials of the man who’s raping them tattooed onto their pubic regions for shits and giggle.

It’s unclear how deep Mack will go with this sorority fun time story into her defense at a trial, or merely hope she can leverage her believability in telling this story into some kind of reasonable plea deal. You’d have to expect the latter, unless she wants to put her future in the hands of a jury who’s just spent days on end hearing the tales of cult victims rape and bondage stories. Not all nuts end up in jars, some go to prison.