NY self-help guru pleads not guilty to child porn charges

NEW YORK (AP) — The spiritual leader of an upstate New York self-help group has pleaded not guilty to new charges accusing him of possessing child pornography.

Keith Raniere entered the plea on Monday at a hearing where it became clear that his four co-defendants are taking steps to avoid going to trial with him next month.

Prosecutors hit Raniere last week with charges accusing him of creating and possessing images of a teenage girl. He was previously charged with operating a secret society within his NXIVM (NEHK’-see-uhm) group that allegedly forced women to have unwanted sex with him and branded them with his initials.

Raniere’s co-defendants include Seagram liquor fortune heiress Clare Bronfman and TV actress Allison Mack. They have denied the charges. A prosecutor said the government is in plea negotiations with Mack and two others.