Sheppard denounce “unauthorised use” of music in documentary about sex-slavery cult

The band's song 'Geronimo' soundtracks a promotional video by US cult NXIVM that appears in a new documentary about the organisation

Content warning: This article discusses sexual abuse.

Brisbane band Sheppard have voiced their disapproval regarding the inclusion of their music in a documentary about US sex-slavery cult NXIVM.

Formed in Albany, New York by Keith Raniere in 1998, NXIVM initially presented itself as a self-help based, multi-level marketing organisation. It was later exposed as a cult in which women – some underage – were recruited, branded and forced into sexual slavery.

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Last month, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering, child pornography possession and other crimes.

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, a four-part docuseries about the organisation, premiered in Australia on Stan last month. It follows former member India Oxenberg as she attempts to make sense of her years in the cult, detailing the abuse that took place within the organisation.

In the first episode of the series, a promotional video made by NXIVM is shown that uses Sheppard’s 2014 song ‘Geronimo’ over images of members at “Vanguard Week”, a retreat run by the cult that celebrated Raniere’s birthday.

Upon learning of their music’s inclusion in the documentary, the band have asked their managers, Michael Chugg and Andrew Stone, for it to be removed.

“We haven’t and would never have allowed our music to be featured by NXIVM in their promotional video, and we were not approached by the documentary to have this unauthorised usage featured in the program,” commented the band’s George Sheppard in a statement.

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“It goes without saying that the allegations and charges surrounding the NXIVM cult are reprehensible and in no way would we want our music associated with such an organisation or for it to be implied by the documentary makers that we have approved this usage in the past.”

The band say they are yet to hear back from the documentary’s filmmakers regarding the matter.

NME has reached out to Stan for comment.

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