Nicole Daedone, the founder and former CEO of One Taste, dubbed the “fingering cult,” turned herself in last week to federal authorities and was arraigned in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and released on a $1 million bond.
Prosecutors argued against bail, saying Daedone was a flight risk, who had returned to the USA after “weeks of continuous overseas travel to various destinations in Europe and Asia.”
She and co-defendant Rachel Cherwitz were indicted on federal forced labor charges on June 6.
Both women pled not guilty.
The charges against the women stem from their alleged involvement in a forced labor scheme that exploited members of OneTaste.
OneTaste gained recognition for offering classes on “orgasmic meditation” (OM), a practice that involves a man wearing rubber gloves stroking a woman’s genitals for fifteen minutes often in classes with other men and women doing the same and spectators watching.
The company generated revenue by providing courses, coaching, and events related to OM and other practices.
According to the indictment, Daedone and Cherwitz, along with others, subjected OneTaste members to economic, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse, surveillance, indoctrination, and intimidation between 2006 and 2018.
The defendants allegedly recruited women who had suffered prior trauma, promising that OneTaste’s courses could heal their sexual trauma and dysfunction.
To maintain control over members, Daedone, Cherwitz, and unnamed co-conspirators induced members to incur debt to finance courses, subjected them to surveillance in communal homes, demanded absolute commitment, collected sensitive information about their personal lives, and limited contact with people outside the OneTaste community.
The defendants allegedly promised wages and commissions that were later withheld or changed without notice.
Additionally, they instructed members to engage in sexual acts with investors, clients, employees, and beneficiaries of OneTaste, exploiting them for financial gain and promoting their commitment to the organization.
Resistance to the defendants’ directives was allegedly met with public shame, humiliation, retaliation, harassment, and coercion.
Deadone presides over a OM session.
Dissenters were intimidated and attacked, creating a climate of fear within the OneTaste community.
Daedone and Cherwitz now face charges of forced labor conspiracy, which carry penalties under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594. If convicted, they may also face criminal forfeiture of assets involved in or derived from the offenses.
The case is before Judge Diane Gujarati and Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
Daedone’s $1 million bond was secured by her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and a friend, Marcus Ratnathicam, who put up a $2 million property in Fort Bragg, Calif., as collateral.
As part of her bail conditions, the court barred Daedone from contacting her co-defendant Cherwitz, any known co-conspirators, or victims, and she is not allowed to discuss anyone’s testimony with OneTaste employees unless a lawyer is present.
Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom warned Deadone when she agreed to release her, “You are under a microscope. So you should assume that you are being watched and you should make sure that the only people you’re talking to about your case are your counsel.”
Daedone is represented by Manhattan attorneys Julia Gatto and Reid Weingarten of Steptoe and Johnson.
Upon leaving the courtroom, Gatto addressed reporters praising her client “Nicole Daedone is a ceiling-shattering feminist entrepreneur who built and grew a company like no other, supporting and embracing female sexuality, female worth and female empowerment. The idea that this woman at this company engaged in forced labor is as far from the truth and reality as one can comprehend.”
Cherwitz Also Released
Rachel Cherwitz, former Head of Sales of OneTaste in the forced labor indictment, appeared in federal court on June 7. She pled not guilty and was released on a $300,000 bond.
The US Attorney’s statement claims Daedone and Cherwitz engaged in “a years-long scheme to obtain the labor and services of a group of OneTaste members—including volunteers, contractors, and employees of OneTaste—by subjecting them to economic, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, surveillance, indoctrination, and intimidation.”
Cherwitz Demonstrates Orgasmic Meditation
In a video for Deepak Chopra’s YouTube channel, “The Chopra Well,” Cherwitz demonstrated One Taste’s Orgasmic Meditation (OM), where she is fingered in front of strangers, while Daedone describes the process.
The “OM” lasts 15 minutes and involves a man with rubber-gloves inserting a finger stroking a woman’s clitoris at “1 o’clock.” She may or may not have an orgasm during this time.
When asked by an onlooker what the experience was like, Cherwitz responded:
When I was 25, I was told by a therapist I was inorgasmic, meaning I couldn’t climax. As a woman, if I have to go through my life not enjoying sex, what’s the point? So in my first “OM” I felt this one moment of electricity, and I thought, “Oh, that’s what it means to be a woman, to feel that open and that comfortable and that safe with another human being.” And I remember sitting up and looking at my partner and saying to him, “I don’t know what that just was, but whatever that is, every single woman should know that she can feel that.”
OneTaste Owners Release Official Response to Charges
Anjuli Ayer, the current CEO of OneTaste, was present for both Cherwitz and Daedone’s court appearances. The company, based in Santa Rosa, is run by Ayer, her brother Austin and Amanda Dunham.
They released a statement addressing the indictment, which read in part:
Letter From The Owners of OneTaste
June 6, 2023
OneTaste founder Nicole Daedone and former sales director Rachel Cherwitz were indicted… on unfounded allegations of forced labor. Given OneTaste’s culture of empowerment, choice, and consent, this is both inconsistent with our core values and utterly unjustified…. We are appalled by the outcome of what seems to be a long-term, misogynistic endeavor designed to tear down a feminine empowerment project and the women who built it.
OneTaste is a women-led organization that has devoted itself to wellness, healing, inclusion, personal growth, and has always had female empowerment at its core. The practice of Orgasmic Meditation (“OM”) has been misunderstood and maligned despite ever-expanding scientific evidence demonstrating its beneficial impact. OneTaste, under its current ownership, has strived to improve, listen to criticism, adjust, and evolve in ways that bring those myriad benefits to many more people. They practice OM on their own time and on their own terms. This is our continuing mission. We remain undeterred even as we commit to fully defend ourselves and the practice that has transformed our lives, in the face of a multi-year, media-instigated campaign….
While Nicole Deadone founded One Taste, it is unclear if she continues to work in the company.
OneTaste was re-branded as “The Institute of OM” and still sells courses, coaching, and has its own app. The website has dozens of testimonials from satisfied “OM’ers” and quotes from doctors who support the practice.
The website does not say if Daedone and Cherwitz are involved in the current enterprise.
The OneTaste.us website is active.
The prosecutors’ allegations describe an escort service disguised as personal empowerment. Cherwitz and Daedone are accused of “recruit[ing] and groom[ing] OneTaste members to engage in sexual acts with OneTaste’s current and prospective investors, clients, employees and beneficiaries, for the financial benefit of OneTaste and, in turn, themselves.
So far only Daedone and Cherwitz have been charged, yet the indictment refers to “co-conspirators,” suggesting that charges against other defendants may be brought.
“In furtherance of the scheme, the defendants NICOLE DAEDONE and RACHEL CHERWITZ, together with their co-conspirators, deployed a number of abusive and manipulative tactics in order to obtain the labor and services of these members.”