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'They Wanted It': Doctor Defends Branding Nxivm Members In New 'Dateline' NBC Special

doctor danielle roberts nxivm branding tattoo keith raniere dateline nbc
Source: DATELINE NBC

Feb. 26 2021, Updated 11:24 a.m. ET

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A former member of NXIVM, Dr. Danielle Roberts, has defended branding members of the sex cult in a preview of an exclusive interview with Dateline NBC, obtained by OK!.

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Source: Dateline NBC

"These women didn't come to me because they thought I was a doctor. They had no idea who the branding technician was going to be, you know? There was no patient-physician relationship," Roberts told Kate Snow

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"I think pain and harm are two different things. You know, I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this. These women wanted this, they asked for this. You know, I mean and I understand now that narrative has changed and they're saying other things," Roberts replied when asked how she could "inflict pain" onto others after taking an oath as a doctor.

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"And I feel badly that that's how they've chosen to perceive it. I feel badly about that — understand that when they were in the room with me, they wanted it. They said they wanted it. They were laughing," Roberts said when Snow noted that many women later said they didn’t want to be branded but felt like they had to be. 

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"There are women who have said — India Oxenberg said to me, 'I didn't really want this.' She's now covered it up with another tattoo. She's ashamed that she has the brand," Snow said. 

Roberts is an osteopathic doctor and has never been charged for her involvement in Nxivm, but her license is reportedly under review.

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Roberts’ interview will be part of a two-hour special titled Collateral Damage, which will also reveal new details about the sex cult, including founder Keith Raniere’s first interview since his 2018 arrest. 

"If you look at my longterm partners, I'm even against tattooing. I don't have tattoos. None of my partners have tattoos. If my partners want to get them, that's up to them," he told Dateline from prison.

The special will feature interviews with Oxenberg and her mother, giving an update since Raniere was convicted of sex trafficking, forced labor and racketeering. Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

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"This part is a blur. Dr. Danielle Roberts comes in, and we're introduced to her as the is the person who's going to give us our tattoo," former member and Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson said, as previously reported by OK!. "What happens first, I believe we're asked to get naked again and Dr. Roberts has a stencil. We're supposed to place it on her body so that we can figure out where it needs to go so it's underneath our underwear line so we could still wear a bathing suit and people won't see it."

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"I had two women holding my hands and my feet so I wouldn’t convulse," Oxenberg previously told PEOPLE about being tattooed. "I remember crying but not with pain."

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Oxenberg and other women were reportedly told that the scar was a "symbol of the elements" and not Raniere’s initials. 

"The circumstances pushed us to our limits, to the point where you would think you were making the choice to get branded," said Oxenberg. 

Collateral Damage will air on Friday, February 26, at 9 p.m. ET.

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