Binge-worthy new podcast explores alleged self-help sex trafficking cult with deep Vancouver ties

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A CBC podcast series released earlier this month takes a deep dive into the world of NXIVM, a self-help group that allegedly branched out into sex-trafficking sub-groups; its founder; and one ex-member at the centre of its unraveling who happens to also be a Vancouverite.

Listening with headphones/Shutterstock

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM (Apple podcasts) follows the case against the group (pronounced “nexium”) and the involvement of Sarah Edmondson, a Vancouver resident who spent 12 years ascending the ranks in the group, which strikes parallels to MLM schemes like Amway and organizations like Scientology.

Edmondson was part of a branch-off group that included Smallville actress Allison Mack. Edmondson was “branded” with a mark on her body during an enrolment ceremony, and was forced to be a “slave” to another member, as well as recruit “slaves” of her own to join the group. She also taught self-help workshops at NXIVM’s downtown Vancouver ESP centre on Georgia Street.

The new podcast, which currently has seven episodes available for free download via CBC and other podcasting platforms, is hosted by Josh Bloch, who has known Edmondson since youth–prior to her joining NXIVM.

Bloch also explores the back story of the group’s controversial founder, Keith Ranire, and speaks at length with his attorney; Ranire is currently incarcerated in New York, awaiting trial on multiple federal charges, including  sex trafficking, money laundering, forced labor, and identity theft. More charges could be brought against Ranire–who goes by the name “the Vanguard”–Mack, and others.

Mack has most recently been accused of marrying a Vancouver-born actress, Nicki Clyne, in order to help Clyne stay in the U.S.

It’s a complex web of personal beliefs, manipulation, betrayal, and legalities, and the new podcast is definitely worth a listen.

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome. A fifth generation Vancouverite, she was previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com. Lindsay grew up in Vancouver and Toronto, then spent over 20 years in Los Angeles, where ahe earned her Masters in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com