Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Although my research led to dozens of sources, from Forbes to local Albany papers, one clearly stands out: I will be using many articles from
, that's covering it VERY thoroughly and offering an insider's take to it.
I've been closely following and researching the NXIVM trial, all through May, basically awaiting for the Allison Mack testimony to write about it.
April 20th, 2018. Drop 1203 - "Mack is naming names", and giving proof of crimes by Hollywood and Government figures. Q ties this in with other HARD sexual crime scandals.
Drop 1208: again she seems paired with AS [DO NOT TAG HIM], and linked to many other abused underage girls.
May 14th, 2018. Drop 1368: Eric Schneiderman resigned as New York AG under the cloud of a sexual scandal 17 days after Mack was arrested.
September 10th, 2018. Drop 2128: NXIVM is mentioned in the broader landscape of HUMAN TRAFICKING. As we will see, this is exactly the case.
So I was holding up for Allison Mack, but the activity in the NXIVM trial has reached such a high pitch of sheer drama that it deserves a preliminary thread about some of the implications.
Apart from its inherent sensational nature, the appeal of the trial of Keith Raniere, for me, was that it was a "test case" for the many - EVEN MORE disturbing - upcoming sex crimes cases.
And THAT is where some of the most troubling implications come from, as I see it.
Recap: March 2018, Raniere is arrested in Mexico.
His slaves (yes, you read right - slaves) Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack where there.
see for yourself.
Keith and 5 women ended up indicted on a variety of charges, including racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
It includes predicate acts of conspiracy to commit identity theft, to alter records for use in an official proceeding, money laundering, trafficking and document servitude… (cont.)
… state law extortion, visa fraud, sex trafficking, forced labor, sexual exploitation of a child, and possession of child pornography.
This is Keith Raniere, a.k.a. "Vanguard", the monster. By now, you may understand why I felt I had to write about this.
You probably heard about the self-help guru revealed to be a criminal slave-master-cult-leader.
You probably heard about DOS: his circle of slaves, that in turn had their own slaves. How they demanded collateral and sexual obedience.
You probably heard about the blond starlet who was also arrested, and how she was not the hero's friend she played on TV, but rather a monster's lieutenant.
You probably heard about the billionaire heiress who fell under his spell, and bankrolled his criminal enterprises.
Heard about her powerful father, owner of Seagram's, tried in vain to extricate his daughters from what he knew, in 2003, to be a cult.
You probably heard about the unbelievable iron-branded marks that all Raniere's slaves bore upon their groins, with his initials.
You probably heard about his sex-lairs, now said to be linked to trafficking and child crimes. How he was building a torture dungeon with BDSM gear and a human cage.
You probably heard about the countless lives he destroyed, while pretending to lead a ascetic life.
- If you never heard of any of that, and this is all new to you, you may wanna check this original expose from 2003 by Forbes, republished.
My initial focus was Mack, but as I researched the case, a less obvious but equally vital theme arose: can a scumbag like "Vanguard" really be defended in court? Remember: his defense is being taken care of by the billionaire Bronfmans.
Who do you hire, if there are no financial constraints? Apparently, this the guy: Marc Agnifilo has an impressive résumé, and an even more impressive way of picking apart the prosecution's case.
I urge you not to *immediately* assume the defense attorney of such a monster has to be an equal scumbag. The right to a defense is a key foundation of the modern democracies.
SIDEBAR: let me bring here the example of famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz, in his book "The Reversal of Fortune", adapted for a movie.
It concerns his defense of Claus Von Bulow, a millionaire that EVERYONE knew had killed his wife. Does everyone deserve a defense?
Alan: Reminds me of my Hitler dream. You know, Hitler calls up, he's alive... needs a lawyer. I say, "Sure, come on over." Then I have to decide: do I take the case, or do I kill him? Son: You? No question. Alan: I would take the case... Alan/Son: Then kill him.
Here is a classic scene. YES, everyone gets a defense.
BACK TO NXIVM TRIAL: The charges were brought by the Eastern District of New York, and the trial takes place in Brooklyn.
Judge Garaufis is on the bench. This will soon prove significant.
Moira Penza, Tanya Hajjar, and Chief Assistant Mark Lesko are the AUSAs appearing for the prosecution. Don't be fooled by the youthful pics.
Appearing for the defendant, Marc Agnifilo, Paul DerOhanessian, Teny Geragos and Danielle Smith.
Initially, Agnifilo was suspected of being responsible for all the defendants lawyers.
But eventually, all the other co-defendants (Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, Nancy Salzman and Lauren Salzman) pleaded guilty, and are now cooperating witnesses against Vanguard.
The prosecution case is robust, there is plenty of material evidence, and all the co-defendants have flipped on Raniere.
But you have to factor in the best defense money can buy.
One thing about some of the key witnesses: they are ex-cult members. That makes it for an easy avenue to question their credibility.
Take, for example, ex-NXIVM member, "filmmaker" Mark Vicente - that had just given a very damaging testimony.
Agnifilo made him admit that he once followed another guru, and believed that said guru was a 3,500 year-old warrior.
You can read about it, here:
Next thing you know, the prosecution is including last-minute "expert witnesses", Dr. Stuart Grassian and Dr. Dawn Hughes.
The drama really picked up tremendously with the testimony of Lauren Salzman.
Ms. Salzman was one of DOS lieutenants, was slave to Vanguard, and herself master to many slaves.
She admitted - on Raniere's orders - to have locked up a young Mexican woman for TWO YEARS on a room, for punishment.
The crime of this young woman? She fell in love with a man other than Vanguard.
Lauren talked about the branding of slaves, and a multitude of other NXIVM crimes.
It was a devastating testimony from someone deep inside the cult.
But then came time for the cross examination by defense lawyer Agnifilo. Oh, boy.
Right from the start Ms. Salzman underwent a "complete meltdown". She was sobbing nearly uncontrollably.
After lunch break the cross examination continued as relentless as before.
Lauren was having a REALLY HARD TIME, when suddenly…
…the JUDGE snapped at Agnifilo, and ended the testimony.
That may open an avenue for the retrial of the monster, since his defense appeared to have been curtailed, in fact in a way that showed to the jury the lowest regard from the Judge for the defense lawyer.
Read on the Frank Report:
The defense motioned for a mistrial, which the Judge did not grant. The trial proceeded, but under a cloud of uncertainty.
I wondered if it was even worth continuing to follow closely. But I figured that, as a "test case" for the many future sex crime trials, the experience was still valid, even if the verdict may not hold.
But also, knowledgeable opinions have surfaced, suggesting it may not be the case for a retrial.
Next on the stand was Danni, the Mexican girl Vanguard groomed to be his lover, now a strong, free woman who has put the horrors of the cult behind her.
The told the jury how she was smuggled into the country with fake papers, provided by the cult.
How Keith tortured her psychologically for four years…
… and finally conspired to keep her locked up in a room for two years. All for what "crime"? For wanting to have a lover other than her "Vanguard".
The room was unlocked, but her prison was primarily mental.
Danni testified that Raniere was having sex with her sister, Camila, since she was 15.
In fact, he was having sex with Danni and her two sisters: and all the 3 sisters had to have abortions as part of belonging to this monster.
Before her punishment, Danni had learned hacking skills, to invade computers of enemies and even members of the cult.
They spied on Clare's father, Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., the powerful billionaire.
He was deemed an enemy after telling Forbes magazine that the "self-help" group NXIVM was a cult, and engaging in efforts to get his 2 daughters out of it.
On the last days, reports have come out of just how much Raniere is screwing his own defense.
He is constantly writing post-its notes and handing to Agnifilo, who at this point reportedly can barely hide his contempt for it.
He is constantly pushing Agnifilo to be harsher to the witnesses, but after the Lauren Salzman debacle, the super lawyer seems unwilling to alienate the judge even further.
Everyone gets a defense.
Apparently, the monster is being rotated and kept in isolation in jail, due to the frequent beatings.
Before you rejoice in that - don't. Jail beatings are sad and unacceptable.
REMEMBER: the MXIVM trial is a Preview of the many emotions we are promised once the prosecutions for sex crimes start rolling in.
That was "NXIVM trial - an update"
go to @frank_report for the most complete coverage.