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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Of course Michael Avenatti wormed his way into the Allison Mack sex cult case

Illustration for article titled Of course Michael Avenatti wormed his way into the Allison Mack sex cult case
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Michael Avenatti seemed like a worthy Trump adversary when the brash attorney emerged as the lawyer of Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims Trump paid her $130,000 in hush money. Since then, however, he’s revealed himself to be as much of a media-hungry bully as our president, and recent charges of bank fraud and extortion, not to mention a host of tax violations, appear to spell doom for the guy.


Still, that hasn’t stopped him from doggedly pursuing headlines, and, though his work in tightening the vice around R. Kelly has been admirable, he’s now wriggled his way into another high-profile story about an alleged sex cult. You might remember NXIVM, the “women’s self-help group” that functioned like a pyramid scheme, hoarded blackmail, and used a hot iron to brand its members, some of whom were treated like slaves. Well, Clare Bronfman, the Seagram liquor heiress who allegedly funded the bizarre, violent work of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere and Smallville actress Allison Mack, is currently in court, and it appears that she’s being represented in part by Avenatti.

This comes via Vulture, who report that Bronfman didn’t reveal to the court that she was working with Avenatti. One can see why, as her attorney, Mark Geragos, is an unindicted co-conspirator in Avenatti’s extortion case. “It is now the court’s understanding that she has an additional attorney who was in negotiation with [prosecutors] for her, but did not file a notice of appearance,” said Brooklyn federal court judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

After the judge pressured her to admit that Avenatti was negotiating with prosecutors on her behalf, Bronfman reportedly “seemed unsteady on her feet and appeared on the brink of falling to the table,” resulting in an ambulance being called. It was soon revealed in open court that, yes, Aventatti was indeed meeting with both Geragos and prosecutors.

“Ms. Bronfman is not feeling well…her skin has not come back to color. I believe she blacked out,” said one of Bronfman’s lawyers following her episode. She exited the court shortly after, as you can see in the below clip.

Avenatti, meanwhile, has made his Twitter account private.


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.