Amanda Knox Signs Petition Circulated by NXIVM Members Who Are Trying to Free Keith Raniere
Amanda Knox wants to make one thing clear: She does not support NXIVM leader Keith Raniere.
Knox, 33, recently added her name to a petition created by NXIVM members, part of a strategy aimed at trying to free the sex offender founder of controversial New York-based self-help group NXIVM.
The petition, left with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn on Friday, a copy of which was viewed by PEOPLE, states the prosecution engaged in "corrupt practices" in their case against Raniere, accusing them of "horrible transgressions." It calls on prosecutors to affirm basic principles of good conduct, saying they didn't do so in the case against Raniere.
However, Knox tells PEOPLE via email recent "reports that I'm a supporter of Mr. Raniere or that I am involved in his case are not true and are nothing more than irresponsible media distortions made to garner clicks."
In June 2019, Raniere was found guilty of federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges. He will be sentenced next month, after initially appealing his conviction.
NXIVM became the subject of scrutiny from both law enforcement and journalists after it came under fire from Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter, India, became deeply involved with the group for several years.
Prosecutors contended in a criminal complaint that Raniere forced female members of his cult-like group to turn over "collateral" — identified as potentially-damaging personal information or materials, such as nude photographs, with which they later could be blackmailed. The women victimized by Raniere believed their "collateral" would be released if they did not engage in sexual activity with the NXIVM leader, according to the complaint.
The state argued Raniere's top lieutenant in NXIVM was former Smallville actress Allison Mack, who, last year, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and racketeering charges. She, too, will be sentenced next month.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Knox said "I have no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Mr. Raniere." Knox added she did not follow his case as it was being tried.
However, "I was contacted by some former members of NXIVM who claim that Mr. Raniere has been wrongfully convicted and asked [me] to sign a petition asking the prosecutors in the case to affirm some principles of prosecutorial conduct that any prosecutor should be able to affirm, such as not engaging in perjury, not tampering with evidence, and not threatening witnesses."
She adds: "I was aware that this petition was an unorthodox move. Regardless, I signed the petition because violation of these practices would constitute prosecutorial misconduct, regardless of Mr. Raniere's guilt or innocence."
While the petition includes a section referencing prosecutorial misconduct generally, it also specifically criticizes prosecutors in Raniere's case.
Knox was an American student studying abroad in Perugia, Italy in 2007 when she was accused of brutally murdering roommate Meredith Kercher, 21, who was found half-naked with her throat cut in her bedroom.
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Knox, who was 20 at the time of the killing, and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were both convicted of the murder.
Prosecutors alleged the crime had taken place during a sex game run amok, though hard evidence against the young couple was scant.
In 2011, Knox and Sollecito were freed after four years in prison after an appeals court acquitted them. However, the pair were convicted again in absentia in 2013 before being acquitted again in 2015.
She has since become an advocate for wrongfully-convicted people.
Knox and her husband, Christopher Robinson, got married in 2018, and celebrated the following year with a space-themed reception.
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