I was watching American Greed last night and an episode came on about a cult located near Albany. The cult was called NXIVM.
It got me wondering about other cults that operated across the state. These four suspected cults have been active in New York.
NXIVM was started by Keith Allen Raniere. It was a sex cult and a multi-level marketing scheme. This guy was a piece of work. He founded it in 1998. According to Wiki,
The group claimed to offer personal and professional development seminars through its "Executive Success Programs" of large-group awareness training.
NXIVM eventually led to the creation of DOS, a "sorority" that was really a secret society, where women were branded and forced to do sexual things for Raniere and others. In 2018, he was arrested in Mexico, where he had been hiding from the police. Raniere was charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor. He was sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Word of Life Church
The Word of Life Church is based in Chadwicks, New York. The founder of the church, Jerry Irwin, died in 2012. His daughter, Tiffanie Irwin, took over, according to People Magazine. In 2015, the church came under investigation after the beating death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard, who had been punched, kicked, and whipped. He, along with his brother 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, was abused for over 12-hours on Oct 11. 2015. Christopher survived the brutal attack. Nine members of the cult, including the boys parents, were arrested in connection to the beatings.
Odyssey Study Group
Founded by Alex Horn and his wife Sharon Gans, Odyssey Study Group was originally started in San Francisco as Theater of All Possibilities, according to the New York Post. They were run out of the city in 1978 after negative press, according to the Cult Education Institute. The group eventually turned up in New York City. The cult was still operating, as of 2019, run by the aging Gans. According to the Post,
A dozen former members have spoken to The Post — telling stories similar to those shared more than four decades ago, including claims that they forked over huge sums to Odyssey while being emotionally abused and exploited.
Former members claim they were scammed of their money, abused physically and were deprived of sleep. They also claim the group is openly racist and homophobic, according to The U.S. Sun.
Credit: Inside Edition via Youtube
Twelve Tribes originated from the Jesus movement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to Wiki. It was founded by Elbert Eugene Spriggs Jr. in 1972. The New York State Department of Labor Worker Protection Unit found child labor violations at the cult's Common Sense Farm, according to the New York Post. An expose' by Inside Edition revealed the child labor violations,
Secretly recorded video allegedly shows children as young as nine working an assembly line for the factory — which packages soaps and lotions for major brands, including Savannah Bee and Acure.
Spriggs died on January 11, 2021, due to COVID-19 complications.