FBI special agents arrested a leader of OneTaste, a “sexual wellness” company specializing in a practice it calls “Orgasmic Meditation,” in Mendocino County early Tuesday morning. Rachel Cherwitz, the former Head of Sales, was taken into custody without incident, on charges of forced labor conspiracy. Her co-defendant, founder Nicole Daedone, remains at large. The U.S. District Attorney’s Office would not comment on whether or not Daedone is considered to be a federal fugitive at this time.
Cherwitz appeared in court in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon, and will be indicted in the Eastern District of New York at a future date.
OneTaste claimed to offer sexual and spiritual wellness through a practice called “Orgasmic Meditation,” or stroking a woman’s genitals for fifteen minutes. The organization offered expensive courses in the practice, claiming it could heal past traumas.
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace announced the charges against Cherwitz and Daedone saying, “Under the guise of empowerment and wellness, the defendants are alleged to have sought complete control over their employees’ lives, including by driving them into debt and directing them to perform sexual acts while also withholding wages.”
In October, we wrote about another organization that was founded by Nicole Daedone, Unconditional Freedom. The non-profit was operating in the Mendocino County Jail and Juvenile Hall, claiming to offer a restorative justice curriculum called Prison Monastery to inmates. We reported that all the Unconditional Freedom personnel involved in the program were also affiliated with OneTaste. At least one of the volunteers, Rachel Hemsi, was also listed as Director of The Land, a retreat center in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. The Land’s website still offers visitors the opportunity to donate to Unconditional Freedom. Cherwitz was arrested at The Land at around 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall terminated the relationship with Unconditional Freedom during the course of our reporting.
The article came out shortly before a Netflix documentary about OneTaste called “Orgasm Inc.” Paul Boylan, the same attorney who sued Netflix on behalf of fourteen anonymous women, claiming a violation of privacy, also sent takedown letters to this news site and others who published the same information by this reporter. None of the sites took down their stories.
According to an eight-page indictment filed in the Eastern District Court on April 3 of this year, Cherwitz, Daedone, and their co-conspirators, who remain unnamed, “induced the OneTaste members, including OneTaste employees, to incur debt, and at times facilitated OneTaste members into opening lines of credit, to finance expensive OneTaste courses that the defendants knew the OneTaste members could not afford.”
The indictment remained sealed until Tuesday morning because the defendants were “at liberty;” and the government wanted to “ensure that the defendants do not learn that they are under indictment and to prevent them from fleeing justice to avoid arrest and prosecution.”
The indictment further state that Cherwitz, Daedone, and their co-conspirators “recruited and groomed OneTaste members to engage in sexual acts with OneTaste’s current and prospective investors, clients, employees and beneficiaries, for the financial benefit of OneTaste and, in turn, the defendants. According to the indictment, Daedone and Cherwitz also instructed the OneTaste members to engage in sexual acts they found uncomfortable or repulsive as a requirement to obtain “freedom” and “enlightenment” and demonstrate their commitment to OneTaste and Daedone.”
The alleged abuses include providing and obtaining labor through the use of force and threats of force, public shame, humiliation, and retaliation. Between 2006 and 2018, the indictment claims, Daedone and Cherwitz “obtained the labor and services of a group of OneTaste members by subjecting them to economic, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse; surveillance; indoctrination; and intimidation.” Daedone and Cherwitz are also accused of failing to pay employees what they were owed and changing their employment status or locations so they would be entirely dependent on OneTaste.
While they are accused of committing a crime in Queens, the defendants’ area of operations is believed to cover a wide geographic range. The indictment includes a long list of affiliated companies using variations on the OneTaste name, as well as Mirror Clan Inc., Caravan Retreats Inc., Texas Limbic Network LLC, and The Next Right Thing LLC.
The property that Daedone and Cherwitz are alleged to have obtained through forced sexual labor is subject to criminal forfeiture. If they are convicted, the government will seek forfeiture of any property that can be traced to the offenses described in the indictment. If any of that property has been transferred to a third party or has diminished in value, the government will seek to make up the difference in value with their personal property.
Each defendant is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.