Who is the man who punched and knocked out Keith Alan Raniere?
He is Maurice Adonis Withers, 33.
Raniere is 62.
Withers is a fellow inmate in max security USP Tucson. He came to Tucson following his conviction for sex trafficking in May 2017.
Withers trafficked women and children and faced life in prison. He got an 18 year sentence.
The jury convicted Withers of six counts of sex trafficking. Each count carries a minimum sentence of 15 years.
Withers got barely over the minimum.
Raniere was convicted of trafficking one woman, Nicole – one time. He got 40 years for Nicole, as part of a total 120 year sentence.
His other charges included attempted sex trafficking, racketeering, and forced labor.
In Raniere’s case, a jury reached a guilty verdict in less than three hours. In Withers’ case, it was also less than three hours.
Raniere had a six-week trial.
Withers had a four-day trial.
The jury also found Withers guilty of three counts of interstate trafficking for prostitution.
Like Raniere, Withers’ sex offenses involved a minor.
Raniere was convicted of photographing the minor, but not sharing her photos.
Withers sex trafficked children.
Withers’ other charges include:
- two counts of sex trafficking a minor,
- three counts of sex trafficking by force or threats or coercion,
- one count of attempted sex trafficking by force or threats or coercion,
- one count of transporting a minor from Wisconsin to Nevada for prostitution,
- two counts of transporting individuals from Wisconsin to Nevada for prostitution.
Evidence against Withers included testimony from five victims, statements he made on Facebook, and a cell phone video.
Withers had been sex trafficking for seven years.
Withers’ 18-year sentence was lenient.
He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison for four counts of sex trafficking of adults by force.
On his two counts of sex trafficking a minor, he faced a minimum of 10 years to life.
He faced a maximum of 10 years for the two counts of transporting an individual for prostitution.
On Nov. 20, 2017, US District Judge William Conley sentenced Withers to 18 years in prison plus lifetime supervision.
“It’s clear the defendant chose vulnerable women at vulnerable times to move them into prostitution for his benefit,” Conley said.
“I apologize for the influence I had over them. I regret the choices that led me here today,” Withers said at the sentencing.
Withers was what some describe as a “Romeo pimp.” He would meet women on social media, act as a boyfriend, and soon lead them to sex for money with others.
There seemed a little of the cult in some of his victims.
Women said they had no mind of their own once Withers got hold of them.
One victim, Tiffany, said Withers made her “fall in love.”
“You fall in love with them, and then they beat you down, brainwash you, and they manipulate you, and then they traffic you.”
She said Withers kept her secluded, got her fired from stripping jobs, and undermined friendships.
“It’s like you lose grasp of the real world,” Tiffany said. “He just had complete mind control. You couldn’t think for yourself. He thought for you. He spoke for you.”
She started by giving customers nude massages. Withers pressured her to “up-sell,” and offer customers more.
She said he intimidated her by pinning her in a corner, yelling in her face, and degrading her.
According to the US Attorney, Withers used force and threats of force to coerce women to work as prostitutes for him.
The women worked in Madison, Wisconsin Dells and Baraboo, Wisconsin. He transported three victims to Las Vegas to engage in prostitution for a month.
Five victims testified at his trial about Withers’ use of force, threats, and coercion, which forced them to be prostitutes.
Withers recruited women and girls to prostitute since 2010, and used social media to find them.
The US Attorney characterized Withers’ control of the women as semi-cultic.
His tools of pimping included virtual mind control.
He also used violence, threats, intimidation, degradation, and psychological manipulation.
One of Withers’ techniques to brainwash the women was to work them in glamorous settings, like the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.
Withers used Back Page ads to set dates and get affluent men for clients.
Sometimes Withers turned to violence when women did not do as he commanded.
Women testified he grabbed their faces and struck women.
He was also active in managing their time. Sometimes the venue was cheap and tawdry. It was not always glamorous hotels.
Withers set up a date for one woman and instructed her on how she should complete the sex act. He stood outside the car watching throughout and knocked when the time was up.
On the same day, Withers drove the woman to Madison, where he instructed her to engage in another commercial sex act.
She did not want to do it with the client but felt she had to get money and give it to Withers to get back home. Since she observed Withers hit another woman, she felt she had to do the sex act with the stranger and she did it.
Withers would sometimes mislead women about the duration of out-of-town trips.
One woman testified she thought she was going with him on a day trip to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Instead, it was a several-day drive to Denver and Las Vegas, where she and other victims engaged in commercial sex acts.
The woman said she felt “scared” that he would leave her behind without money. She also felt “terrified” after she saw Withers hit another woman. The fact that Withers possessed a gun also enhanced her fear.
Withers also employed food deprivation. He did not give her food when she needed it for her hypoglycemia.
One woman testified she did not want to go on some dates but was “terrified” that Withers would “make” her, and if she refused, he might kill her.
Withers also expected his women to perform for him on demand.
In Las Vegas, Withers slapped a woman when she objected to oral sex with him.
Keith Raniere is assigned to a unit at USP Tucson. In the dining room, a man named Adonis Withers punched him in the head.
Contrary to what some headlines in other publications might lead people to believe, Withers did not recently punch Raniere.
The incident occurred on July 25, 2022, according to Raniere.
Withers punched him in the head in the dining hall at USP Tucson while the former NXIVM leader was carrying his food.
He knocked Raniere unconscious.
Just as Withers got far less prison for crimes arguably as bad or worse than Raniere’s, he got less punishment for his attack.
Prison policy is that anyone involved in prison fights goes to the SHU.
Raniere remains in the SHU almost two months later. Withers has been out for several weeks – despite Withers initiating the attack.
Raniere’s lawyers say the BOP is retaliating against Raniere for suing them for blocking his communications with his Power of Attorney, Suneeel Chakravorty.
Raniere’s followers blame this writer, in part, for the attack. They say Withers struck Raniere immediately after the TNT episode of Rich and Shameless’ The Heiress and the Sex Cult appeared on TV in prison.
Parlato was the consulting producer and appeared in the episode.
His followers believe Withers was morally outraged at the vile behavior the show falsely depicted Raniere to have done.
But this writer believes Withers was jealous of Raniere’s celebrity. Perhaps Withers felt Raniere was a more popular sex trafficker than he. And after all, Withers did far more sex trafficking than Raniere.
Another area where the two men are similar, yet divergent, is their use of body art.
Raniere arranged to have his female “slaves” branded with his initials on their groins. Raniere himself is not known to have any brands or tattoos.
Withers is not known to have branded or tattooed his slaves, but sports a tattoo on his own body.
His tatoo proclaims his business model: “Ain’t No Money Like Hoe Money.”