Members of alleged sex cult NXIVM appear in federal court

A judge wanted to discuss "issues" with the fund paying for their legal defense.

A federal judge in Brooklyn told members of the alleged sex cult NXIVM that 75 percent of the funds in an irrevocable trust had been depleted.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis had directed the defendants to appear in court "to address issues it has identified" with the irrevocable trust established by Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman. The trust was being tapped to pay for defense lawyers.

Prosecutors raised questions about the trust and whether Bronfman, who is charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit identity theft, established it in order to exert control over her fellow members of NXIVM.

The judge reviewed who contributed to the fund, how much money it has and whether there are conflicts in a trust established by one defendant that's meant to aid all six. It is not clear what happens if the money runs out.

Prosecutors have portrayed NXIVM as a cult that advertised itself as self-help for professional women but brainwashed them, branded them with a symbol representing the initials of founder Keith Raniere and coerced them into sex.

Raniere, Bronfman and "Smallville" actress Allison Mack are among the defendants who have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in April.