The woman accused of running a wellness company that doubled as an “orgasm cult’’ was sprung on $1 million bond Tuesday — but a judge warned her that she is “being watched” while free.
— founder of OneTaste, — pleaded not guilty to allegations that she coerced and groomed members into having sex with investors and clients for more than a decade.
Daedone said little during the proceeding, sitting bolt-upright in her chair and offering one- or two-word answers when US federal Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom addressed her.
Her friend and former colleague at OneTaste, Marcus Ratnathicam, secured her release by putting up his $2 million property in Fort Bragg, Calif., as collateral.
But even as Daedone walked free, Bloom starkly warned her to watch her step.
“You are under a microscope,” Bloom told the 56-year-old defendant.
“You should consider you’re being watched.”
Federal prosecutors have said Daedone and the company’s former head of sales, Rachel Cherwitz, led the business like a cult.
The duo allegedly recruited those who endured prior trauma with claims that they could fix their victims’ sexual dysfunction.
But the pair actually forced members and employees into debt and subjected them to “economic, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse” as well as “surveillance, indoctrination and intimidation” to get them to work for free, prosecutors said.
They allegedly made members live in communal homes and demanded they engage in “uncomfortable or repulsive” sex acts — claiming this was the path to “freedom and enlightenment.”
If the members balked at the creepy cultish orders, the pair shamed, humiliated and retaliated against them, prosecutors said.
When asked Tuesday if she had a public statement, Daedone just shook her head and smiled.
But her lawyer, Julia Gatto, said outside the courthouse that her client is not guilty of the sins prosecutors have laid on her.
“Nicole Daidone is a ceiling-shattering feminist entrepreneur who built and grew a company like no other – supporting and embracing female sexuality, female worth and female empowerment,” Gatto said.
“The idea that this woman at this company engaged in forced labor is as far from the truth and reality as one can comprehend.”
Daedone and Cherwitz have been charged with forced labor conspiracy for the alleged scheme, which purportedly ran for 14 years until it ended in 2018.
If convicted, they could face prison terms of two decades each.
Daedone surrendered her passport when she turned herself in.
She was instructed to stay in either New York City or northern California but will live in the Big Apple during her trial.
The company — born in San Francisco with operations in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Denver — was also the subject of the 2022 Netflix documentary called “Orgasm Inc.” that chronicled its rise and fall.